27 November 2011 - Over 6 million Sudanese children targeted in new polio immunization campaign
Khartoum, A multi-partner campaign to vaccinate all children below the age of five against the crippling polio virus and to provide supplementary Vitamin A for boosting their immunity will begin Monday 28 November.
The three-day campaign comes on the heels of a similar effort in all Darfur States that targeted 1.6 million under-five children. Another 4.6 million children in 12 states are slated to receive the polio vaccine and a dose of Vitamin A that prevents night-blindness and improves immunity.
Speaking ahead of the campaign, UNICEF Chief of Health Dr. Magdy Bayoumi said: “No case of polio has been reported in Sudan since March 2009. But there is no room for complacency. We must ensure each child is reached in every polio immunization round to ensure the circle of protection around every child is complete.”
Sudan last reported cases of polio in Khartoum and Red Sea in March 2009. No new cases have been reported in the country since then as a result of several polio immunization rounds, strengthening of supervision during campaigns and rigorous social mobilization activities.
The continuing circulation of polio virus in neighbouring countries that can act as a potential gateway given the common livelihood and constant movement of populations at the borders, makes further polio immunization rounds essential.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health and partners led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the global effort to eradicate polio. Already this effort has resulted in 99 per cent reduction in cases worldwide from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to 1,349 in 2010. The key interventions supported by UNICEF include procurement of vaccines for campaigns, advocacy, planning, training, supervision and monitoring.
Sudan’s polio National Immunization Days are supported through financial contributions from a number of donors including the governments of Canada, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United States (USAID and OFDA), Centre for Disease Control and Rotary International.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.