Polio Vaccination Campaign To Target 85M Children In 19 West, Central African Countries

Global health organizations will launch a $30 million polio vaccination campaign on Saturday in West and Central Africa aimed at immunizing 85 million children under age 5, the Joint Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the International Federation of the Red Cross said on Thursday, Agence France-Presse reports (3/4).

The campaign, which targets 19 countries, will be carried out by more than 400,000 volunteers and health workers, the Associated Press writes. The campaign “is largely funded by Rotary International,” according to the news service (3/5). 

The campaign “is part of an ongoing response to the epidemic that first spread from polio-endemic Nigeria to its polio-free neighbours in 2008 and is still paralyzing children in West and Central Africa,” according to a Joint Global Polio Eradication Initiative statement. It notes that nine countries – “Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone – are considered to have active outbreaks of polio (i.e. cases within the last six months).” In addition to those nations, Benin, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Nigeria and Togo will also be targeted (3/4).

“With better coverage that leaves no child unvaccinated, these campaigns can succeed in making West and Central Africa polio-free,” said Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF’s regional director, according to AFP (3/4).

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