Polio vaccination campaign launched in Malakal

14 Dec 2011

Polio vaccination campaign launched in Malakal

12 December 2011 – Hundreds of thousands of children in Upper Nile stand to benefit from a four-day polio vaccination campaign launched today by the State Ministry of Health (MoH), UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders.

Part of a nationwide effort to curb the disease, the campaign – the fourth and final this year -- will run from 13 to 16 December, targeting over 370,000 children.

The previous three campaigns took place in February, March and November, said Paulo Okech Ajak, manager of WHO's Expanded Program for Immunization in Upper Nile.

"Our target for the last three exercises this year was to immunize 376,857 children under five years of age," Mr. Ajak said. "For February we reached 100 per cent, March 101 per cent and November 102 per cent. We also expect this one to exceed the target."

Addressing the public during the launch, Minister for Health Stephen Lor Nyiak said a dry season campaign would begin in mid-January 2012 in all of the state's 13 counties. "The aim is to create awareness of the children's disease and HIV/AIDS. We are determined to eradicate these diseases amongst our communities."

WHO head in the state Dr. Fazal Ather said no cases of polio had been reported in South Sudan since 2009.

"This means that the polio virus has been kicked out from not only Upper Nile State but South Sudan as a whole," said Dr. Ather.

UNICEF state team leader David Igulu said they had been supporting the MoH with routine and national immunization campaigns against the disease.

"We have supported the government in the provision of vaccines, solar powered fridges for proper storage and safety of vaccines in remote areas, training of staff and social mobilization -- for example, using Radio Miraya and other mediums of reaching out to the people to create awareness of the disease," said Mr. Igulu.