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Eradicating polio in W/Africa

Mar 28, 2011, 2:06 PM

Protecting children from contracting polio through a national immunization campaign is essential for any country’s health care.

The Gambia is one of 17 countries in Africa that are currently campaigning against polio, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and its development partners.

We are of the view that even though health experts have confirmed that a devastating polio epidemic in West African countries is on the verge of being stopped, there is no room for complacency.

Since mid-2009, polio has re-infected some of the populations of eleven countries across West Africa, claiming many lives and leaving hundreds of children paralysed for life.

The multi-country immunization campaign, which began on 25 March to go through 28 April across 15 countries, is expected to cover more than 38 million children. This will obviously help in combating the disease.

We firmly believe that if we want to achieve our set targets in eradicating polio in The Gambia as well as the sub-region, our immunization efforts must be guided by intensive community sensitization.

Polio eradication efforts could be further intensified in the ECOWAS sub-region with more partnership and cooperation from the Ministries of Health and other development partners.

Even after the outbreak is stopped, periodic vaccination campaigns, like the current one, will certainly boost our collective efforts.

Back home in The Gambia significant achievements have been made, and we commend the health authorities and development partners for their efforts.

This year, an estimated 391,425 children will be vaccinated during the national immunization days.

Once more we urge parents and guardians to open their doors for the campaigners to get their children vaccinated.

Since there is no cure for polio so far anywhere and it can easily be prevented through vaccination, we urge all and sundry to get their wards vaccinated.

The house-to-house campaign targets children of 0-5 years, and calls on the general public for cooperation on the campaign.

Polio can kill or cripple mainly children under 0-5 years and the only way to prevent that is through vaccination.

“The polio-eradication initiative has shown the world that even in the poorest countries, widespread and debilitating disease can be defeated”.

Patty Stonesifer