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More than 22 million children to be immunized against polio across Bangladesh

Dhaka, March 2, 2007: Bangladesh will immunize more than 22 million children under the age of five in order to eradicate the re-emergence of polio. The first round of the 15th National Immunization Days (NIDs) will be held on Saturday, March 3rd, while the second round will be conducted on April 8th.
The second round is important as it combines polio vaccines with Vitamin A capsules for children between 1 and 5 years, and de-worming tablets for children between 2 and 5. Massive preparations are currently underway and 30 million vaccines have already been procured to make the NIDs successful.
Ever since the detection of the poliovirus in March last year after an absence of 5 years, there have been six polio NIDs which were held in 2006. It is estimated that the six rounds reached between 95 per cent and 97 per cent of the under-five children in the country.
The Government of Bangladesh with support from UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta) decided to immunize all children under the age of five across the country when the first case of polio was detected.
“We feel very enthusiastic about the effective response mounted in order to counter the threat of polio resurgence in Bangladesh. Moreover, it is now time to coordinate our actions well to make the NIDs successful,” said Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative.
Advisor to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Major General (Retd) Dr. Matiur Rahman addressed a press briefing on Thursday before formally inaugurating the 15th round of the National Immunization Days today (Friday).
“The NIDs are aimed at the complete eradication of the poliovirus and paralytic polio so that no child will ever again know the crippling effects of polio in Bangladesh. All guardians must be well informed about NIDs. They must know when and where to bring their children for vaccination. It is very important not to miss any child including those living in hard to reach areas or traveling.” said Dr Duangvadee Sungkhobol, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh.
In an attempt to eliminate polio, the government will hold 4 rounds of NIDs in 2007 and continue two rounds of NIDs every year from 2008 until bordering India, which has been identified as a polio-endemic country, is free from polio.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) works with governments around the world to reduce the incidence of polio and is spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF. The GPEI has reduced the incidence of polio by more than 99 per cent since its launch in 1988, from 350,000 annual cases to 1956 cases in 2006.

For more information:

Kirsty McIvor
Communication Officer,UNICEF
+8802 9335807

WHO contact:
Dr. Serguei Diorditsa
Team Leader IVD and Medical Officer,WHO
+8802 989 9540
+8802 881 3410



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