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Bangladesh to reinforce its polio-free status through 18th National Immunisation Day

Dhaka, January 9, 2010. Bangladesh will immunise more than 22 million children under the age of five tomorrow (Sunday) in order to reinforce its polio free status by providing two drops of polio vaccine during the 18th National Immunisation Day (NID).

All children of aged 0-5 years will be given two drops of polio vaccines, all children aged 12-59 months will be given one vitamin A capsule and children aged between 24 and 59 months will be given one de-worming tablet during the NID.

Field workers from both Health and Family Planning along with more than 600,000 volunteers will administer 29 million doses of oral polio vaccines (OPVs) and 20 million vitamin A capsules and 18 million de-worming Albendazole tablets through 140,000 vaccination sites across the country.

“The present challenge is to ensure that no children are left out no matter how much geographically isolated they are. This NID will not only maintain the polio-free status of Bangladesh, but will also effectively help reduce other childhood diseases as it combines vitamin A and de-worming,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Carel de Rooy.

Meanwhile, Dr. Duangvadee Sungkhobol, WHO Representative to Bangladesh said, “Bangladesh has successfully maintained polio free status since 22 November 2006 after last case of imported poliomyelitis. But there is still the threat of re-importation of the wild polio virus from the neighbouring country. We need to continue our efforts to sustain our highest achievements in previous NIDs and routine EPI coverage. We must maintain our polio free status through vigilant monitoring and surveillance.”

Administering Vitamin A for prevention of night blindness and albendazole for deworming during NIDs would be an added advantage for the children of Bangladesh, Dr. Duangvadee added.

The Government of Bangladesh (GOB) with support from UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta) mounted a model response to immunize all under-5 children across the country when the first case of polio was detected in March 2006 after the country had been polio-free for five years.

As the NIDs re-started, the Government of Bangladesh decided to integrate National Vitamin A-Plus Campaign (NVAC) with NIDs. With support from Micronutrient Initiative, UNICEF, and WHO, the Government of Bangladesh will provide a Vitamin A capsule and an Albendazole tablet together with polio vaccination during the 18th NID.

The benefits of such an integrated intervention are multi-faceted. It results in increasing coverage, cost reduction and saves the time of service providers as well as that of the children’s parents.  

Vitamin A deficiency poses a major threat to the health and survival of children and mothers. It is estimated that vitamin A capsules save the lives of over 30,000 children per year and reduces illness among thousands of others in Bangladesh alone.

Meanwhile, de-worming contributes to improving the nutritional status of children as worm infestation causes weight loss, poor growth and anemia leading to poor educational achievement of children. So, control of worm infection reduces prevalence of anemia, helps cognitive development and increases absorption of vitamin A among children.      

Since the detection of the poliovirus in March, 2006 there have been six rounds of polio NIDs in 2006 and four rounds in 2007 and in each round between 95 per cent and 98.2 per cent of under-five children in the country were reached. During the 17th NID in November 2008 the polio and vitamin A coverage was 97.6 per cent and 96.4 per cent respectively.

Due to efforts of the government and development partners in Bangladesh, coverage of vitamin A supplementation in Bangladesh has increased from around 50 per cent in the mid-1990s to over 95 per cent in recent years.

This achievement is the result of the excellent synergies between multi-sectoral actors including the Government of Bangladesh and non-governmental organizations.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) works with governments around the world to reduce the incidence of polio and is spearheaded by the WHO, Rotary International, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF.

For more information:
UNICEF contact: Christine Jaulmes, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Bangladesh, +8802 9335807, +8801713043478,
WHO contact: Dr. Serguei Diorditsa, Medical Officer, IVD, WHO Bangladesh, +8802 989 9540, +8802 881 3410,



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