News / Africa

85 Million Children To Be Immunized Against Polio In West And Central Africa

Lisa Schlein

United Nations and international aid agencies are kicking off a mass polio immunization campaign across 19 countries in West and Central Africa on Saturday.  The agencies say they aim to vaccinate more than 85 million children under five against the poliovirus in an effort to stop a year-long polio epidemic in the region.  

The agencies say a previous round of campaigns in 2009 did not stop the polio outbreak that swept West and Central Africa because not enough children were vaccinated to stop polio transmission.

The aid agencies say they have learned from this experience.  A spokesman for the World Health Organization, Rod Curtis, says more than 400,000 volunteers and health workers are taking part in this campaign.

"And, when you have 400,000 vaccinators literally going door-to-door to every single dwelling in these 19 countries to reach every child under five, this is very important," said Rod Curtis. "Epidemiologically, it is important because it reaches children everywhere.  So, if you have families that are traveling to a neighboring country, it gets to traveling children as well.  And, it also raises immunity both to stop this outbreak by reaching every child, but also to raise immunity to ensure against future outbreaks."  

WHO reports nine countries in West and Central Africa have had outbreaks of polio within the last six months.  They include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

The poliovirus spread from Nigeria to countries across West and Central Africa in 2008.  Many of the countries, which had been polio free, became re-infected.

The polio epidemic initially spread in Nigeria from the northern Islamic part of the country.  Religious leaders refused to allow their children to get immunized, claiming the vaccine was contaminated and could cause AIDS and sterilization.

Curtis says the religious leaders have since changed their view.  He says Nigeria has benefited greatly from the north's participation in national immunization campaigns over the last 12 months.

"Whereas this time last year, polio was being widely transmitted throughout Nigeria, with 42 cases already recorded in 16 states by this time in 2009, this year we have had one case in total throughout the country," he said.

When WHO began its Global Eradication Campaign in 1988, more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries were paralyzed each year.  In 2009, WHO reports nearly 1,600 children were paralyzed by polio in 24 countries.  So far this year, only 34 cases of this crippling disease have been reported around the world.

The aid agencies plan a follow-up campaign in the same 19 countries on April 24.  These immunization campaigns are made possible by a $30 million contribution by Rotary International.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid