Nationwide Polio Supplementary Immunization Campaign kicks off with support of UNICEF
01 October 2010, Ulaanbaatar-A total of 198,005 children in Mongolia aged 5 months to 5 years old will be immunized against polio during a special National Supplementary Immunization Campaign, which commences today with the support of UNICEF.
The campaign, developed by the Ministry of Health, is designed to reach every child in this age group in Mongolia. “Polio outbreaks have been recorded recently in several countries. While no cases have yet occurred in Mongolia, the exact time to act is before an outbreak occurs” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative in Mongolia. “The campaign will provide additional protection to our youngest children, who are the most vulnerable to infection with poliovirus. It is a very timely preventative measure and excellent initiative by the Ministry to ensure that all children are protected, should the poliovirus cross the border into Mongolia” she added.
Children will need to receive two doses of the OPV vaccine one month apart. The first dose will be delivered between 1-5 October and the second between 1-5 November, 2010.
Special contribution of more than USD $130,000 worth of OPV has been provided by UNICEF for this campaign. In addition, equipment needed to refrigerate vaccines, communication messages to parents as to why this campaign is so important for their children and other related costs have also been supported by UNICEF to ensure that the campaign reaches remote and hard to reach children living in 613 baghs and khoroos of 21 aimags and 9 districts of Ulaanbaatar.
An innovative approach- the Reach Every District (RED) Strategy- will be utilized by the Ministry of Health of Mongolia during the Campaign to facilitate outreach to children in the most disadvantaged and marginalized communities. “The strategy requires that those children who are in the most need for support and hardest to reach are clearly identified and that a plan is developed to ensure that they are reached as a priority. The strategy also promotes community participation for immunization and supportive supervision to ensure high quality interventions are achieved,” added Flowers.
“Immunization is an essential step for children to be safeguarded against many diseases, but we should not forget about the other factors that play a crucial role in influencing child survival. Factors such as density of population, poor nutrition, a lack of improved sanitation and hygiene and other factors all make children more vulnerable to disease in Mongolia. In this regard, given that the campaign will reach every child, this is a marvelous opportunity to boost the immune system of our youngest children by also providing essential nutrients to the children. Given the very high levels of chronic malnutrition among children accompanying the second dose of the vaccine, during the 1-5 November, will be a distribution of Vitamin A for the children” added Flowers.
The EPI managers from all the 21 aimags and 9 districts have been trained in advance of the campaign on polio immunization by the Ministry of Health to ensure sound execution of the immunization process, as well as to build their capacity to incorporate the RED strategy.