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21st NID to reinforce country’s polio-free status

Full access to children must be protected

Dhaka, 19 December, 2013:  Bangladesh will immunize around 22 million children aged 0-59 months on 21 December 2013 for bolstering its polio-free status by providing two drops of polio vaccines during the 21st National Immunization Days (NIDs).

Health workers and volunteers will administer oral polio vaccines to 22 million children at 140,000 sites located in health facilities and health centres, schools, as well as mobile sites (bus, boat and train stations) throughout the country. A four-day Child-to-Child Search will also be conducted from 22-26 December by mobile teams in order to ensure that no child is left out.

Before 1986, an estimated 11,500 children in Bangladesh developed polio every year.

Following the launch of the Global Polio Eradication programme in 1988, the intensification of polio vaccination activities, notably through the organization of NIDs, led to the gradual decline of polio cases.

Bangladesh has successfully maintained polio free status since 2006, after the last case of importation related poliomyelitis. This dramatic achievement is a result of sustained bi-partisan political commitment to child immunization in general and to polio eradication in particular, and strong partnership between government, civil society and development partners.

“About 95% of eligible children are usually reached during NIDs, an excellent result indeed. However, we need to do more to ensure that no child is left behind, particularly those living in hard-to-reach and deprived communities,” says UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Pascal Villeneuve. “I also urge all political parties to make this day a success by keeping the upcoming NID out of the purview of any political programme for the greater interest of the children of Bangladesh. Full access to children must be protected and preserved so that the heroes of the polio campaigns – the volunteers, the vaccinators and the social mobilizers – can continue to make history by keeping the scourge of polio away from our children.”

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh Dr. Thushara  Fernando says, “Bangladesh is a model in South East Asia Region for polio eradication due to the strong commitments from all successive governments since 1995. In each year, political leadership of successive governments has spearheded the national EPI programme to successfully conduct NIDs. He adds “Together with UNICEF I urge all political parties to ensure that work of thousands of health workers and community volunteers would not be hindered, district and upazila health managers could send vaccine and logistics to immunization centres on time and children from all communities would be brought to the immunization centres to get polio drops. The support of all stakeholders is even more important now to ensure children of future generations will live in a Polio Free environment.”

The National Immunization Day (NID) marks the end point of several months of careful planning by the National EPI programme under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Thousands of field managers, frontline health workers and volunteers have joined forces to ensure that no child is missed out.
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) Atlanta and UNICEF.

For more information:
UNICEF contact:
Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Communication Officer, UNICEF Dhaka
+8802 8852266; +8801711595045

WHO contact:
Saiful Islam
Media Consultant, WHO Bangaldesh
Phone: +8801714165208 +8802 8831415



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