War-torn Angola battles polio
Polio, a disease that causes paralysis, has almost been eradicated from the world, but it continues to threaten children in war-ravaged Angola. In the first four months of 1999 more than 1,000 cases of polio were reported, marking the largest outbreak of the disease in Africa since 1995. With more than 1.7 million Angolans internally displaced and living in overcrowded camps, access to proper sanitation and safe water is virtually non-existent. The result is a breeding ground for infectious diseases, like polio.
In response to the most recent outbreak, UNICEF, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the Government of Angola and other partners, is conducting a massive immunization campaign. To combat the disease, more than 4,000 health workers and volunteers have been mobilized to immunize children under five. They hope to vaccinate up to 80 per cent of Angola's children during the three rounds of National Immunization Days (NIDs). The third round took place in August.
To eradicate the disease, one of the remaining challenges UNICEF and its partners face is to ensure that all Angolan children are vaccinated. At the moment, although a large percentage of the population is seeking refuge from the fighting in government-controlled cities, approximately 70 per cent of the country is inaccessible. To break the transmission and to eradicate the disease completely, it is crucial that children in all areas of country are fully vaccinated.
These photos were taken by Jeremy Horner, Panos Pictures, on a recent visit to Angola to coincide with the launch of The Progress of Nations 1999.
A woman disabled by polio fled her rural home after Angola's long civil war erupted again in December 1998. She is now one of hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety in Angola's capital, Luanda.
Drops of the oral polio vaccine will prevent this young girl and her sister from getting polio. Approximately 2.7 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated during the immunization campaign.
Already confronted by a life of malnutrition and uncertainty, this young girl now faces an even more difficult future ahead. During the recent outbreak of polio in Angola, many children, particularly those between the ages of 11 and 23 months, were paralysed by the disease.
To combat misinformation and to inform parents about the dangers of polio, an aggressive social mobilization campaign is under way. Through posters, radio, traditional dance and theatre, whole communities have been mobilized to participate in the National Immunization Days.
Living in an overcrowded camp in Luanda, this woman sits with her daughter, a victim of the recent polio outbreak in Angola.
With the huge influx of people fleeing the armed conflict, Luanda has become an urban sprawl of shanty towns and camps for displaced persons.
These children sleep together in a crowded, makeshift tent in one of Luanda's many camps for internally displaced persons. Overcrowding and poor sanitation contributed to the recent polio outbreak.