500: Millions targeted in Angola, West Africa NIDs
- Millions targeted in Angola, West Africa NIDs
The month of July saw increased polio immunization activities in
several African countries where the disease is still endemic. A
second round of synchronized National Immunization Days (NIDs) was
launched on 25 July in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon,
and the Atlantic Ocean island nation of Sao Tome & Principe. The
first round took place in mid-June.
The latest effort is especially crucial in Angola, which is taking
advantage of a peace dividend to reach all unvaccinated children in
areas that were inaccessible before the end in April of a brutal
civil war. In the country's capital of Luanda, more than 1 million
children were targeted. The exercise was carried out by 389 teams of
vaccinators, made up of nearly 5,000 volunteers and health workers.
Coinciding with the four-nation joint NIDs was a nationwide
immunization effort in the Republic of Congo (ROC), aimed
at forestalling a possible polio outbreak in the country's Pool
region, an outcome that could have undermined the initiative in
neighboring Angola, DR Congo, and Gabon. Close to 700,000 children
received the oral polio vaccine in the ROC event.
Meanwhile, in the West African countries of Niger and neighboring
Burkina Faso, where no case of polio was reported in four years, a
joint emergency campaign will be under way in August to immunize more
than 500,000 children age 5 and under.
The decision to launch the special effort was prompted by the
discovery of a case of polio in northern Burkina Faso, imported from
Niger, one of 10 countries in the world where wild poliovirus still
exists. World Health Organization officials said this week that their
investigations confirmed that a child had left Niger already infected
and visited a health center in Burkina Faso seeking treatment.
"We were in the phase in which a country that has not had a case for
a given number of years can be declared free of polio," WHO's Chantal
Kambire said in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. "But one
case can jeopardize all efforts and gains made so far."
On 1-7 August, vaccinators and volunteers will fan out across
districts on both sides of the border in the region where the polio
case was reported. More immunizations will be conducted until the
area is rid of the poliovirus.
As part of its support for polio eradication efforts worldwide, The
Rotary Foundation has to date contributed the following amounts
toward immunization activities in the countries mentioned above:
Angola, more than US$6.8 million; Burkina Faso, more than $1.9
million; Republic of Congo, more than $1.2 million; Democratic
Republic of Congo, more than $12.2 million; Gabon, more than
$200,000; Niger, more than $2 million; and Sao Tome & Principe, more
Courtesy: Rotary Newsbasket