Polio immunization campaign in full gear in Angola
A little while back I reported on the success of a massive polio vaccination campaign in Tajikistan, which stopped polio dead in its tracks within months of the vaccination campaign start. A similar effort is now under way in Angola, Africa, which is experiencing an outbreak of wild poliovirus, that seems to have spread in neighbouring Congo.
The country’s Ministry of Health has reported 19 cases of wild poliovirus since the start of the year, with six of Angola’s 18 provinces having been affected.
Polio cases originating in Angola have spread across the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“Polio virus can travel from village to village and country to country through un-immunized children,” cautioned Koenraad Vanormelingen, UNICEF Representative in Angola.
Low routine immunization rates and the lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities across Angola and Africa in general make children especially vulnerable to polio and other infectious diseases, he said.
This effort is backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). $9 million has been earmarked for this effort, and “tens of thousands of volunteers, health workers, parents, social activists and soldiers, along with community, religious and traditional leaders, will go door-to-door in villages across Angola to hand deliver polio vaccines to every child under five.”
The first leg of this campaign took place August 6-8, with the follow-up leg scheduled for September 10-12, 2010. I have been unable to find comprehensive coverage numbers, however one province is reporting that over 400,000 children received the polio vaccinations during the 3 day span in August. The goal, as expressed by UNICEF is to reach 5.6 million children under 5 years of age with this year’s campaign. We will keep an eye out for further developments regarding this story.