Burkina Faso seeks to immunize 4.6 million children against polio

UNICEF delivers 5.3 million vaccine doses, trains and supports 11,470 community mobilizers and 3,783 public announcers to raise awareness among families.

14 July 2023
Nutrition
UNICEF/2022/AmadouCisse
Saidou Diallo, chef de la santé à l'UNICEF Burkina Faso vaccine un enfant contre la polio.

OUAGADOUGOU/DAKAR/NEW YORK, 14 JULY 2023 – On 14 July, Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO kickstart a four-day national polio vaccination campaign aiming at immunizing 4.6 million children under the age of five, including those living in areas with difficult access due to armed conflict.

“The child who swallows the polio vaccine oral drops can be protected from losing their capacity to walk or from dying of the disease. Even with insecurity prevailing in some parts of Burkina Faso, all efforts are made to take polio vaccine doses closer to families to immunize children. But it is not easy for community health workers and vaccinators to do their job when their security is at stakes,” says James Mugaju, UNICEF Burkina Faso Representative a.i.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under 5 years of age. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or by contaminated water or food. Paralysis can occur within a few hours of infection and one in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Five to 10 per cent of those paralyzed die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

The vaccination campaign is rolled-out to boost children’s immunity and protect them from the deadly disease. Since 2016, Burkina Faso has not reported a single case of wild poliovirus. From 2019 to December 2022, 73 vaccine-derived polio cases were reported in the country. With support from WHO, 22,940 mobile vaccinators will criss-cross all 13 regions to give children the oral drops to protect them against polio.  

Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age. However, anyone of any age who is unvaccinated can contract the disease. There is no cure for the disease but it can be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life. This national polio immunization campaign is the second round, following one held in November 2022.

To cover the caseload of 4.6 million children and prevent vaccine shortage, UNICEF transported 5.3 million polio vaccine doses to the landlocked west African country of Burkina Faso and supports the Ministry of Health dispatch the vaccine doses across. UNICEF also supports 2,450 personnel collect vaccine vials and open access to incinerators to manage biomedical waste and reduce the risks of contamination.

UNICEF trained 11,470 community mobilizers and 3,783 public announcers who go door-to-door to raise awareness among families. Partner radio stations are also used to air spots and programmes to call upon parents and caregivers to accept vaccinators in their homes to immunize children.

In Burkina Faso, the security situation remains highly volatile with attacks by armed groups targeting civilians and defense forces, mainly in some areas located in the Nord, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions. With insecurity prevailing, transporting the vaccine doses, and deploying teams are dauting tasks and innovative approaches will be used to reach all children.

Currently, an estimated 5.5 million people require humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso, including 3.2 million children caught in the conflict. More than 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, 58 per cent of whom are children.

In line with the 2023 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal, UNICEF requires US$226.7 million in 2023 to continue to reach children and vulnerable populations with lifesaving goods and services. To date, only 11.9 per cent of funding has been allocated.

Media contacts

Ndiaga Seck
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Burkina Faso
Tel: +226.05.25.58.98
Bruno Sanogo
Spécialiste de la Communication
UNICEF Burkina Faso
Tel: Tel:+226.56.41.15.15

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