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Polio vaccinations in West Africa

2nd March 2009

In West Africa, 53 million children will be vaccinated against polio over the next month in schools, health clinics, and in their homes.

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West Africa is one of the last refuges for the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF have spent a cumulative total of US$6 billion trying to eradicate polio in developing countries.

The present campaign cost US$67 million, and will span eight countries.

Bill Gates, whose charity foundation is one of the campaign's main supporters, travelled to Nigeria earlier this month to monitor the progress of the initiative.

He said that eliminating polio there could lead to a polio-free Africa.

The plan is to reach every child, even in the most rural areas or in the most populated urban areas.

The campaign aims at reaching a critical mass of polio immunisation coverage in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Polio can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection, and spreads most efficiently where sanitation is poor, and is endemic in Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Babies under three years of age succumb most often to the disease.

Health clinics in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo, and Nigeria will all participate in the latest polio eradication drive.

Some 162,000 immunisers will give two courses of door-to-door injections and run immunisation drives in schools.

Though polio is more of a problem this year in some countries than it was in last year, the worldwide average rates of infection are down.

Organisations recorded 68 cases of polio paralysis in January and February 2009, compared to 111 in the first two months of 2008.

This is mainly due to a fall in infection rates in India, where only 13 infections have been reported so far this year compared to 82 at the start of March 2008.

 

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Article Information

Title: Polio vaccinations in West Africa
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 10402
Date Added: 2nd Mar 2009

Sources

Reuters News

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