Reaching every child under the age of five is a must for a polio free South Sudan
JUBA, 4 December 2012 - The last round of the 2012 polio national immunization campaign kicked off today in all ten states of South Sudan. The campaign targeting children less than five years is expected to reach more than 3.2 million children throughout the country with two drops of polio vaccine in a bid to eradicate polio.
Polio which is a highly infectious disease is caused by the wild polio virus and is known to permanently paralyze or even cause death in children.
"No child should die or be robbed of the chance to play or run because of polio. I am appealing to all parents and guardians to ensure that all children receive the polio vaccine during this campaign. Let our children also get the chance to participate in sports and compete in the international scene," said Dr. Yatta Lori Lugor, the Deputy Minister of Health, Republic of South Sudan, addressing a Partner's meeting.
The last case of polio in South Sudan was reported in June 2009. However, this does not call for a celebration yet. Some neighbouring countries have on going virus circulation, which puts the children in South Sudan at a risk of contracting the disease due to cross border transmission.
"South Sudan has been polio free for over three years now but we cannot relax. We all need to be vigilant in ensuring that the disease is eradicated by ensuring that every eligible child receives the vaccine, parents know and understand the importance of immunizing their children and by strengthening the surveillance systems," said WHO Country Representative Dr Abdi Mohammad.
Results from previous campaigns have shown that more than 95% of the targeted children received the polio vaccine. A major part of this success can be attributed to the vaccinators and social mobilisers who tirelessly work to ensure that every child is protected from polio and that communities everywhere in South Sudan understand the importance of immunizing their children.
"We are failing children if we do not strengthen the immunization systems to ensure that every child is protected from vaccine preventable diseases. I applaud the vaccinators and social mobilizers who tirelessly work to ensure that every child in their community is immunized," said UNICEF's Country Representative Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque.
More than 19,000 volunteers work as vaccinators and social mobilizers in every round of the polio national immunization days.
"I have worked as a volunteer in the polio programme for the last 12 years and I am passionate about my work because I get to make a difference in the lives of children and at the same time serve my community," said Peter John, the polio Munuki Payam supervisor.
For more information, please contact:
Mercy Kolok, Communication Officer, UNICEF South Sudan
Mobile: + 211 (0) 955639658 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunil Verma, Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF South Sudan
Mobile: +211 (0) 920687980 Email: email@example.com.