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Sudan Targets Six Million Children in Vaccination Campaign Against Polio

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Sudan targets the vaccination of six million children in its latest campaign against polio after the disease reappeared in the African country in 2008.

Sudan's new vaccination campaign against polio, which is aimed at reaching six million children, is the African country's latest attempt to eradicate the disease.

The campaign, which began Monday, is supported by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), and will be conducted over three days in northern Sudan. Forty thousand volunteers will move house-to-house, vaccinating children under five years, in every community in the country's north.

Last week over three million children were vaccinated in southern Sudan in a similar immunization program against polio, the disease which can cause total paralysis, hours after its virus reaches the nervous system.

The representative of UNICEF in Sudan Nils Kastberg says he hopes Polio will be completely eradicated through these vaccination programs.

"I certainly hope that we will have no cases this year in the north, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm hoping we will not have a single case in the south either," said Kastberg.

UNICEF says Polio, which had been eradicated from the African country, re-surfaced in 2008 with 27 cases. Last year 40 cases were found in southern Sudan, and 5 more cases were discovered in the country's north.

Kastberg says the main challenge for full Polio eradication in Sudan is limited access to reach all children in the remote areas in Southern Sudan.

"We don't have other than mainly logistical problems in reaching all the places," he added.  "We're talking about a country that is huge. 2.5 million square kilometers."

Three more vaccination campaigns are scheduled to be conducted this year.

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