|© UNICEF Video|
|More than 6.4 million children will be protected from polio during this massive immunization campaign.|
By Kun Li
JAKARTA, 1 June 2005 – A massive polio immunization campaign has begun on the island of Java, Indonesia, aiming to protect more than 6.4 million children from the crippling disease.
The campaign, spurred by a recent polio outbreak in West Java province, is a joint effort by UNICEF, the Indonesian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. UNICEF is contributing about $600,000 to the $4 million campaign. This money is being used to train health workers and to produce technical manuals and forms necessary for the campaign.
“I ask all parents with young children to go to their nearest health facility and have their children immunized. It’s just two drops in the mouth and it’s free,” said UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano.
This campaign aims to reach all children up to the age of 5 years in Banten and West Java provinces and in the capital city of Jakarta. A follow-up immunization drive will be held on 28 June. UNICEF is confident that the campaign, undertaken promptly after the West Java outbreak, will successfully halt the spread of polio and save countless children from potential paralysis.
Indonesia had been polio free for a decade until early May, when a 20-month-old boy was diagnosed with the disease. Poor sanitation has helped the spread of the disease, and another 14 children have been infected by polio so far.
“We hope to stamp out the re-introduction of the virus, which has been brought to the country almost certainly from the Middle East,” said Dr. David Hipgrave, Chief of Health for UNICEF Indonesia. “We expect the campaign to be successful, and if that’s the case then Indonesia will regain its polio-free status.”
Epidemiologists say containing the outbreak here is crucial to eradicating polio worldwide. But the global campaign is facing a serious shortage of funds. A total of $50 million dollars is needed urgently to fund campaigns planned for the latter half of this year.
31 May 2005:
UNICEF New York correspondent Kun Li reports on a polio immunization campaign seeking to protect more than 6.4 million Indonesian children.