Children in South Sudan are at a risk of contracting Polio
JUBA, 18 August 2013 – Children in South Sudan face a risk of contracting the wild polio virus following outbreaks in neighbouring Kenya and Somalia. In a bid to curb the situation, the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners have launched supplementary polio immunization days in four states bordering neighbouring countries.
The supplementary Polio Immunization campaign will begin on 20th August 2013 and will run till 23rd August 2013 targeting 1.5 million children under the age of five in Central Equatorial State (CES), Eastern Equatoria State (EES), Jonglei State and Pariang County in Unity State 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.
“In the last round of polio immunization days 96 per cent of the targeted 3.3 million children under the age of 5 were immunized against polio but there’s still a danger of the disease affecting children because some children have never been immunized against this deadly virus. This calls for action from parents, guardians, community leaders, religious leaders and everyone in the community to mobilize parents to ensure that their children are immunized against polio,” said the Acting CES State Minister of Health, Honourable Scopas Dima.
South Sudan has been polio free for the last four years with the last case being reported in June 2009. This however does not call for celebration following outbreaks in neighbouring countries and low immunization completion rates among children with only 34.2 per cent completing the required immunization doses by the age of one (source EPI coverage survey 2011-12 by Ministry of Health).
“It is our shared obligation as the community in South Sudan to ensure that no child dies from vaccine-preventable diseases, including poliomyelitis, and we can achieve this objective by supporting and mobilizing communities and families and through working collectively to strength health systems. We shall be failing the children of this new nation if we allow them to die from preventable causes,” said UNICEF’s Representative Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa
UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health by supplying vaccines, providing logistical support to ensure vaccines reach every state in the country and supports social mobilization activities at all levels.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan
For more information, please contact:
Mercy Kolok, Communication Officer, UNICEF South Sudan