Vitamin A and polio campaign launched in Malakal

11 Nov 2011

Vitamin A and polio campaign launched in Malakal

7 November 2011 – The third polio immunization and Vitamin A campaign for children under five years old in Upper Nile was launched today by the state Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF at the Comboni Center in the capital Malakal.

Addressing the event, WHO Expanded Programme on Immunization Manager Paulo Okiech noted that the three-day campaign would target about 386,271 children. He added that there was currently no polio in the state, but a case of measles had been discovered after screening 21 children suspected of having the disease.

"This is a big challenge to us," said Mr. Okiech. "We therefore request the community to inform (us) in case there are indicators of these diseases."

Minister of Health Stephen Lor stressed the importance of the campaign and children's health in general. "Children are the future of this nation ... and among these are tomorrow's leaders."

UNICEF chief in Upper Nile State David Igulu observed that whooping cough, polio, measles, tetanus, diphtheria and civil unrest were among many killers that could rob people of their children.

UNICEF provides more than 80,000 South Sudanese pounds for social mobilization during each campaign and supports the Ministry of Health with refrigerators, cool boxes and vaccines. Each year, four campaigns are conducted in February, March, November and December.

The World Health organization (WHO) also provides vaccines and 230,000 South Sudanese pounds for transport as well as incentives for about 4,062 vaccinators spread throughout the state's 13 counties.

The campaign was attended by representatives of the government, UNICEF, WHO and non-governmental organizations working in the field of health in the state.

Addressing another health concern, Minister Lor said the government had sent a first batch of 13 clinical officers and midwives for nine months of intensive training in Kenya. These staff would contribute to safe child delivery in remote counties of the state. Once they are back the second batch of fourteen will go for another nine months.

"We want to make sure that every pregnant woman in this state delivers at a health center," the minister said.