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Nationwide immunisation campaign underway

Mar 9, 2010, 1:46 PM | Article By: Momodou Faal

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Abubakarr Gaye last Saturday launched a nationwide national immunisation campaign, at the Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital in Bundung.

Speaking at the ceremony, Health Minister Gaye said the immunisation campaign is one of the key strategies of polio eradication initiative or PEI, which is an international initiative declared and adopted at the World Health Assembly.

He stated that in 1992, The Gambia had launched its own national polio eradication initiative under the purview of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), noting that the overall goal of the EPI programme is to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality resulting from vaccine-preventable disease.

"It is gratifying to know that during the recently concluded Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) Fourth Partners meeting held in Hanoi, Vietnam, The Gambia was a recipient of an award for maintaining high immunisation coverage over the past five years," he revealed.

Dr. Gaye added that at a meeting of the Africa Regional Certification Committees held in Tanzania in 2004, The Gambia together with seven other countries were declared polio-free. But he said despite being declared a polio-free country and the successes registered so far, The Gambia is still vulnerable to invasion by polio virus, as the country is in a region where there is still circulation of the wild polio virus.

For his part, the WHO country representative, Dr. Thomas Sukwa said in 1999, the World Health Assembly unanimously voted to accelerate the global polio eradication initiative, noting that since then the number of cases worldwide has been reduced by almost 99%.

"Globally in 2009, there were 1,606 wild polio virus cases among which Africa reported 551cases, all of which were from West Africa," he said, adding that although this represents a reduction in the number of cases, compared to 2008 when 831cases were reported, much more remains to be done.

Madam Oumu Taal of Rotary Club International stated said in 2006 the club due to its concern on the wide spread of the polio virus, secured funds amounting to US$150, 000 from the embassy of China on Taiwan, which was used for a sub-immunisation in the Western Region.

She assured the Ministry of Health and partners that Rotary International would continue to support national immunisation campaigns.