Polio Outbreak: Nigerian govt, UNICEF begin emergency immunisation, target 5 million children
The Federal Ministry of Health supported by WHO, UNICEF and partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have rolled out an emergency Polio immunization campaign in Borno, an official said.
The UNICEF Chief of Communication, Doune Porter, said in a statement in Abuja on Friday that the campaign would commence in the accessible parts of the state.
Porter said that the campaign followed confirmation of two fresh cases of polio virus in parts of the state which recently became accessible.
He said the outbreak occurred in the conflict-ridden state where children were already facing dangerously high levels of malnutrition.
Porter said the discovery underlined risks for children in conflict and underscored the urgent need to eradicate the disease in conflict-affected areas.
He said that Nigeria had its last confirmed polio case two years ago and was within a year of being certified polio-free because of massive mobilisation by government, partners and local health providers.
“We cannot deny the connection between conflict and the continued threat of polio. The two new cases mean children across the Lake Chad region are now at particular risk.
“With our partners, we will not stop until we reach every child with polio vaccination,” Porter said.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had said on Thursday that the government would immediately immunise up to 5 million children in four states in an emergency response to the outbreak.
“Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease,” Mr. Adewole said.
“Local health officials with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
“As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunised in four local government areas in Borno State. Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunised bringing the number to about five million in the four states.”
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