|© UNICEF Madagascar/2005|
|A child in Madagascar receives polio vaccine.|
ANTANANARIVO, 20 September 2005 – In response to the detection of three cases of polio in southern Madagascar, the Ministry of Health has launched a campaign to immunize some 650,000 children in Tulear province. The campaign is running through October.
“UNICEF would like to congratulate the government for its rapid response in organizing this campaign, but we would also like to stress the importance of stepping up and improving routine surveillance,” said UNICEF Representative in Madagascar Barbara Bentein.
“The detection of polio in this country [after a two year absence] has set back eradication efforts by at least three years,” Ms. Bentein added. In order for a country to be declared polio-free, an independent committee must testify to the fact that there have been no polio cases for three consecutive years.
About the campaign
Madagascar’s polio campaign, which was launched at the end of August, is running in two phases: during the first two weeks of September (now complete) and again for two weeks in early October.
The campaign is costing a total of $600,000, and was made possible through the support of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Governments of New Zealand and of Japan, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pasteur Institute.
During the campaign, 9,000 health workers and community volunteers are going door-to-door across Tulear province to ensure that the 650,000 children whom the campaign is seeking to reach get their two doses of the oral polio vaccine.
“No child should have to live crippled from polio,” said Ms. Bentein. “That is why UNICEF is pleased to have been able to assist the government in procuring the polio vaccine and ensuring all logistical and mobilization aspects of the campaign.”
30 August 2005: UNICEF's Misbah Sheikh reports on the latest polio immunization campaign in Madagascar.