Thousands of South Sudanese children to benefit from UN polio vaccine scheme
Thousands of South Sudanese children to benefit from UN polio vaccine scheme
Hundreds of thousands of children are benefiting from a United Nations-backed polio vaccination campaign in a northern state of South Sudan, the world’s newest country.The four-day campaign, which ends tomorrow, is part of a nationwide effort to curb the disease and was launched by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), healthy ministry officials, and other partners.This is the fourth and final campaign this year and it is targeting over 370,000 children below the age of five. The previous three campaigns took place in February, March and November and have reached some 3.2 million children.
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.
“Our target for the last three exercises this year was to immunize 376,857 children under five years of age,” said Paulo Okech Ajak, manager of WHO’s Expanded Program for Immunization in Upper Nile state. “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.”
Polio re-emerged in South Sudan in April 2008, but after an intensive vaccination campaign, no new cases have been reported since June 2009. “The polio virus has been kicked out from not only Upper Nile state but South Sudan as a whole,” said WHO Director for South Sudan Fazal Ather.
UNICEF state team leader David Igulu said the agency had been supporting the Ministry of Health 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 [a UN-backed radio station] and other mediums of reaching out to the people to create awareness of the disease,” he said.
A highly infectious disease caused by a virus, polio invades the nervous system and leads to irreversible paralysis in one out of 200 cases. Only four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – remain polio-endemic today, and the number of cases has declined drastically in the past 25 years
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.
About World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats.
WHO fulfils its objectives through its core functions:
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WHO operates in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing landscape. The boundaries of public health action have become blurred, extending into other sectors that influence health opportunities and outcomes. WHO responds to these challenges using a six-point agenda. The six points address two health objectives, two strategic needs, and two operational approaches. The overall performance of WHO will be measured by the impact of its work on women’s health and health in Africa.
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During the past decade, health has achieved unprecedented prominence as a key driver of socioeconomic progress, and more resources than ever are being invested in health. Yet poverty continues to contribute to poor health, and poor health anchors large populations in poverty. Health development is directed by the ethical principle of equity: Access to life-saving or health-promoting interventions should not be denied for unfair reasons, including those with economic or social roots. Commitment to this principle ensures that WHO activities aimed at health development give priority to health outcomes in poor, disadvantaged or vulnerable groups. Attainment of the health-related Millennium Development Goals, preventing and treating chronic diseases and addressing the neglected tropical diseases are the cornerstones of the health and development agenda.
2. Fostering health security
Shared vulnerability to health security threats demands collective action. One of the greatest threats to international health security arises from outbreaks of emerging and epidemic-prone diseases. Such outbreaks are occurring in increasing numbers, fuelled by such factors as rapid urbanization, environmental mismanagement, the way food is produced and traded, and the way antibiotics are used and misused. The world’s ability to defend itself collectively against outbreaks has been strengthened since June 2007, when the revised International Health Regulations came into force.
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For health improvement to operate as a poverty-reduction strategy, health services must reach poor and underserved populations. Health systems in many parts of the world are unable to do so, making the strengthening of health systems a high priority for WHO. Areas being addressed include the provision of adequate numbers of appropriately trained staff, sufficient financing, suitable systems for collecting vital statistics, and access to appropriate technology including essential drugs.
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UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
> United Nations (UN).
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