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New cases of polio prompts further immunization drive in Bangladesh

DHAKA, 4 August 2006 – Only one month after completing three polio National Immunisation Days (NIDs), the Government of Bangladesh has ordered a  further three polio NIDs this year in response to at least 10 new cases of polio detected in the country.

The first of these new NIDs will be held on 6 August and aims to immunize 22 million children under the age of five.  It will be the forth round of the Government’s 13 special NIDs against polio. In November and December this year, the Government will hold two more polio NIDs.

The Government has also announced that there will be four rounds of polio NIDs in 2007 and two rounds each subsequent year, until neighbouring India is polio-free.

“The decision of the Government of Bangladesh to continue the rounds of NIDs in response to the importation of the polio virus and the occurrence of new polio cases is in line with WHO’s recommendation for polio eradication.  Global and regional experience over the past two years has shown that additional rounds are required to feel confident of having stopped the circulation of the virus,” said Dr. Duangvadee Sungkhobol, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had been polio-free for five years before the first case was confirmed in March of this year. That one case sparked the three NIDs which reached 96 per cent of the 22 million children aged under five. This, however, has not stopped the outbreak and a further 10 cases have been confirmed in the past month.

The Government of Bangladesh, along with partners including WHO, UNICEF, Rotary and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), decided further NIDs were necessary. Each NID will be followed by a four day house-to-house search for any children that may have missed out.

“As disappointing as it is that the first three National Immunization Days didn’t stop the spread of polio in Bangladesh, it is an achievement that the Government and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative can work together to launch another three NIDs in a short period of time. We are committed to working together until Bangladesh is once again polio-free,” said Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.

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 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 1,950 cases in 2005. 

As in the previous campaigns, the GPEI will help procure 22 million vaccines and will be involved in massive preparations, which include orienting and training health workers and field-based volunteers. It will also be instrumental in raising awareness through the electronic media, interpersonal communication, distribution of communication materials and door-to-door searches for left-out children.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 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, please contact:
Kirsty McIvor, Communication Officer, UNICEF Bangladesh, +880-2-933-5807, +880-171-304-3478,

Dr. Serguei Diorditsa, Medical Officer , WHO Bangladesh, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Tel. + 880-2-989-9540, +880-171-153-5387,



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