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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs