News / Africa

Sierra Leone Participates in Mass Polio Immunization

Sierra Leone is kicking off the first of three massive immunization campaigns against polio.  The program aims to reach over one million children nation-wide. The campaign is part of a larger regional push to eradicate polio across West Africa.

Polio was thought to have been all but eradicated in Sierra Leone. But ten years after the last reported case, new cases of the most contagious type of polio surfaced in the country last year. Sierra Leone will launch a massive immunization campaign Saturday - part of a larger effort to control polio in 19 West African countries, including Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

Over the next three days, vaccination teams hope to reach 1.2 million children under five years of age across the country.

Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health is partnering with the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund and others to deliver the polio vaccine to every household in the country. Rotary International donated $30 million towards the first round of vaccinations.

Dr. Thomas Samba is responsible for child health at the Ministry of Health. He says the biggest challenge for Sierra Leone is getting the vaccine to the most remote areas of the country.

In the northern province of Koinadugu where roads are few and far between, local chiefs have hired bicycles. And on Sherbro island in the south fishermen are helping to transport vaccination teams. Dr. Samba says this grassroots approach is key to achieving total coverage.

A 2009 polio immunization campaign failed to stamp out the disease because it did not reach enough children with vaccines. This year, Sierra Leonean children will receive an additional dose after three weeks and a third dose one month later to ensure the population builds up immunity to the disease.

Thousands of volunteers will go door-to-door to administer two drops of oral polio vaccine to each child. But the vaccine must be kept below 8 degrees Celsius, a challenge in a tropical country where electricity is limited to the capital, Freetown.

Dr. Ismaila Nuhu Maksha, immunization specialist at UNICEF, says polio is entirely preventable, but remains a problem in Africa.

"If you walk across most of the streets in this part of the world, we will show you some people who have gotten paralysis as a result of polio, of either the hands or the feet or both. That is as gruesome as it is. That is depriving the child from something that is preventable," said Nuhu Maksha.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system, causing paralysis within hours. It mostly affects children under five.

The World Health Organization says polio cases have decreased by 99% globally. But as long as one child remains infected, all children are at risk.  

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More