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News note

Six million polio vaccines arrive in Yemen

YEMEN, 20 May 2005 - Six million doses of polio vaccines procured by UNICEF arrived today in Sana'a for use in the second phase of the nationwide National Immunization Days scheduled to start from May 30 to immunise all of the country's children under the age of five years. The forthcoming round of NIDs has assumed special urgency in view of the reported polio cases.

As part of the efforts to accelerate vaccination of children against polio, UNICEF has firmed up a comprehensive programme of social mobilization in conjunction with the National Health Education centre. The focus of the social mobilization campaign is on mobilization of media support and active involvement of schools, mosques, local councils, community leaders and artists to get the message across to the largest audience.

Outbreak control response put together by Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners includes special campaigns are being launched on media and also community based mobilization to counter the major setback being faced by Yemen after more than four years of " no polio cases" that threatens the hopes to eradicate polio. In view of the recent threat of reemergence of polio infection in some of the countries in the region, the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with WHO, UNICEF and other partners has stepped up efforts to administer polio drops to all children under five years of age. Yemen is the most recent of the 15 polio-free countries that have reported cases of polio.

UNICEF Representative in Yemen, Mr. Ramesh Shrestha said the best way to protect children from the lurking threat of polio is to increase the polio coverage and urged parents to bring their children for vaccination to save them from the crippling disease. A few tears and a little effort now on the part of parents to give their children the best health care service that children need in their first years of life, he remarked.

Starting at the time of the birth, children need minimum four doses to provide them protection against polio. After the first does at birth the second dose should be given at six weeks, third dose at 10 weeks, and fourth dose at 14 weeks.

Immunization has saved more than 20 million children lives over the last two decades. Although last year vaccination saved the lives of two and a half million children, almost two million died because they were not vaccinated. Vaccine-preventable diseases cause an estimated 2 million deaths or more each year, of which approximately 1.5 million deaths occur among children under five. 


For more information, please contact:

Claire Hajaj, UNICEF/New York, +1 212 326-7566, chajaj@unicef.org





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