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Lebanon announces third national Polio immunization campaign within five months

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© UNICEF Lebanon/2013/Shahezad Nourani

Beirut, 6 March 2014 – The Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) announced today the launch of a third nation-wide Polio immunization campaign as part of the continued efforts to keep Lebanon’s children safe from Polio. The six-day campaign, which starts on the 10th of March, aims to reach almost 600,000 children under five in Lebanon regardless of nationality.

“Once again we come together with UNICEF and WHO to ensure Lebanon’s 12 years of polio free status is maintained.” said Mr. Wael Abou Faour, Lebanon’s Minister of Public Health at a press briefing held today. “It is vital that every child under the age of five is vaccinated even if they have received the vaccine before at a health centre or a private clinic. Even one unvaccinated child puts all other children in Lebanon at risk.”

For this round of the immunization campaign the Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF and WHO have partnered with the Lebanese Order of Physicians and the Lebanese Pediatric Society to ensure that children who might have missed out on the vaccination during the last two rounds are reached this time.

WHO will be providing logistical support to the health district office. UNICEF will be providing private sector Pediatricians with 300,000 doses of the polio vaccine, in addition to 1.7 million doses provided to the Ministry of Public Health, to ensure that children can get the vaccine for free regardless where they are receiving health care.

“Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Health and all our partners we were able to keep Lebanon polio free but we must continue to be vigilant.” said Ms. Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, adding “We cannot allow the fact that Lebanon has been, and still is free of polio, lull us into inaction. Protecting Lebanon’s children from a potentially deadly disease is in our hands and with these repeated campaigns we aim to ensure that Polio has no chance of circulating in the region.”

Dr. Hassan El Bushra WHO representative in Lebanon, noted, "The first two rounds of National immunization days have been great success stories. The vigilance, dedication and hard work of the staff of Ministry of Public Health have prevented re-introduction of polio viruses into Lebanon. The WHO will spare no effort to keep Lebanon free of poliomyelitis. WHO provided technical support, conducted field assessment; and together with MOPH developed and funded implementation of micro-plans related to Nation immunization days."

During this campaign parents in Lebanon’s cities and villages are asked to bring their children to the nearest health center and outpatient departments for vaccination. In the meantime UNICEF will be mobilizing its partners and out-reach teams to vaccinate children in more than 460 informal tented settlements where many of the Syrian refugee families reside across Lebanon.

This campaign follows two previous rounds of Polio vaccination campaigns that have reached almost 590,000 children under five, around 98.4% of the target group. The campaigns are part the largest ever immunization response in the Middle East aiming to prevent the spread of polio in the region after 25 cases were confirmed in Syria.

The third round of the national polio immunization campaign will be followed in April by an expanded immunization Polio, Measles and Rubella in addition to vitamin A supplementation. UNICEF will be providing 1.3 million doses of the MR vaccine for the fourth immunization round. UNICEF will also be will be mobilizing its network of partners in Lebanon in order to support the Ministry of Public Health in reaching almost one million children aged between 9 months and 18 years old.


About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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About WHO

The World Health Organization is building a better future for people everywhere. Health lays the foundation for vibrant and productive communities, stronger economies, safer nations and a better world. Our work touches lives around the world every day – often in invisible ways.  As the lead health authority within the United Nations system, we help to ensure the safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the medicines and vaccines that treat and protect us. We aim to provide every child, woman and man with the best chance to lead a healthier, longer life. 

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