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4th Polio immunization kicks-off today

Jun 25, 2010, 2:45 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Director of Health Services, Dr. Mamadi Cham, has disclosed that the 4th polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) will kick-off today 25th to 28th June 2010. He said 381,134 children under the age of five will be immunized across the country, adding that as of 26th May 2010, 51 wild poliovirus cases have been reported in the sub-region, in 9 countries.

AFP surveillance in 2010, he continued, showed that 31 (67%) countries had achieved the recommended operational NP-AFP rate of at least 2/1000, 000.

Dr. Cham disclosed this to the health journalists at the Medical and Health Services conference room on Wednesday. 

He told reporters that five countries in West and Central Africa namely, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Senegal, Burkina Faso and The Gambia are to start together the three-day polio national immunization campaign.

He said that this exercise is a synchronized activity spearheaded by WHO with support from UNICEF and Rotary International in order to help break the wild polio virus chain of transmission in anticipation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. 

According to him, the World Health Assembly in 1988 targeted to break the chain of wild poliovirus circulation in non-endemic countries, and declared the global eradication initiative.

 He said over the past months, The Gambia has done a lot in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, noting that a series of NIDs have been conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.  Dr. Cham also disclosed to journalists that the first NIDs were conducted in 1998 and ever since, he went on, The Gambia has conducted 12 successful campaigns with high immunization coverage supplemented with active surveillance for any wild poliovirus importation.

He said there has been no importation of wild poliovirus into The Gambia, and the key surveillance and immunization coverage indicators were very good for the past years. Dr. Cham added that this was achieved because of the high coverage of immunization the country has registered over the years, and the active surveillance in order to detect any wild poliovirus.

He said the routine OPV3 coverage for the past years has been above 90% for all the regions in the country, and as a result of this great effort, he continued, The Gambia was declared polio-free since 2004.

Dr. Cham said this was made possible through the support of the Gambia government, development partners and the enthusiastic caring parents/caregivers who bring in their children for immunisation services.

He said The Gambia has maintained high quality surveillance and high immunsation coverage with 3 doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), and said due to the continued risk of wild poliovirus importation, the country continues to implement the National Plan for Prevention and Control of Wild Poliovirus importation.

To ensure the maintenance of the already gained polio free status, it is important that the efforts gained should be reinforced and the community to be well-sensitised for any early detection and swift response to possible wild poliovirus importation, Dr. Cham concluded.