Polio immunization campaign in Pidie Aceh reaches 85 percent of children to date
Health Minister encourages parents to vaccinate their children against polio and protect their future
Banda Aceh, 14 December 2022 – Aceh has wrapped up two phases of a major polio immunization campaign aiming to reach 1,217,939 children under 13 years old by end December 2022. The immunization drive was launched after a polio outbreak was declared in Pidie District in the southwest of the province in early November.
The first phase of the immunization campaign ran from November 28-December 4, targeting 91,482 children in Pidie. The second phase took place from December 5-11 December in six other districts – Aceh Besar, Kota Banda Aceh, Kota Sabang, Pidie Jaya, Bireuen and Aceh Utara – targeting 425,240 children. The third phase started on December 12 in 16 districts.
The campaign is being led by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and the WHO in close collaboration with the provincial and district government in Aceh and multiple partners, including Aceh Dayah Ulama Association (HUDA), Aceh Ulama Council (MPU) and Aceh Pediatric Society (IDAI). Health workers have conducted door-to-door visits to reach as many children as possible.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly contagious disease caused by the polio virus. The disease attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death within hours. It is transmitted through the mouth, originating from water, food or hands contaminated with feces contaminated with the polio virus.
WHO declared Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia region polio free in 2014. However, low immunization coverage in the country has slowed efforts toward polio eradication. Consistently low immunization coverage in Aceh districts and unhealthy environmental conditions are risk factors for polio virus transmission.
“There is no treatment for polio infection, once our children get infected they might not survive, or if they survive they may become paralysed which will have a big impact on our children’s future. However, polio is preventable by immunization. We need to take our children to nearby health facilities and vaccinate them,” said Health Minister Budi G. Sadikin. “By ensuring our children receive complete polio immunization, we are giving them a chance to grow up healthy and have a good future.”
“The root of the polio outbreak in Aceh is the low childhood immunization coverage coupled with inadequate sanitation conditions, including open defecation,” said UNICEF Representative Maniza Zaman. “UNICEF is working around the clock with the government and our partners to help ensure no more children succumb to polio. At the same time we are helping to educate communities about the critical need for routine immunization and safe sanitation to prevent future outbreaks and improve children’s health.”
"Even though polio has decreased by 99% since the polio vaccine was developed, this disease is still spreading in developed and developing countries due to low coverage of routine immunization," said WHO Representative to Indonesia, Dr N. Paranietharan. “Vaccines to prevent and treat polio outbreaks have been approved by WHO. They are safe and effective. To date, more than 250 million doses have been used without any serious side effects associated with the vaccine. WHO is working closely with the government to actively search for cases of polio and monitor the safety of polio immunization.”
Minister Budi applauded the collaboration in Aceh to swiftly address the challenges as exemplary. “It takes every sectors to have villages that can raise a child, and it takes everyone to save our children from polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and it is our child’s right for their future” Minister Budi said.
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Notes to the editors
Globally, UNICEF helps vaccinate 400 million children every year and is a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative together with the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the vaccine alliance. The initiative aims at eradicating polio worldwide by 2026.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues, and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. https://www.who.int