Jun 26, 2008, 5:52 AM
The second round of the national polio immunisation campaign is scheduled for Saturday 24th April to Tuesday 27th April 2010, according to officials of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Health Ministry, Adama Demba, the Chief Nursing Officer said the campaign is a synchronised activity, spearheaded by the World Health Organisation, with support from UNICEF and other partners, to interrupt the transmission of the wild polio virus, with a view to eradicate polio from the African region. She stated that the World Health Organisation Assembly declared this global eradication initiative in 1988.
According to her, The Gambia has done a lot in the global polio eradication initiative, noting that over years, the Ministry of Health has conducted a series of national immunisation days. The first immunisation days, she added, were conducted in 12 successful campaigns with high immunisation coverage, coupled with active surveillance of any polio virus importation.
"There has been no importation of wild polio virus into the country and the key surveillance and immunisation coverage indicator have been very good for the past years," she stated.
This, she went on, is as a result of the high immunisation coverage the country has achieved over the years and active surveillance system in place. In addition, she added, the routine OPV3 coverage for the past year has been above 90% for all the regions.
As a result of this great effort, she said, The Gambia was declared polio-free since 2004, which she added, was made possible through the support of the country's development partners and the enthusiastic caring of parent/care-givers, who take their children for immunisation services.
"The campaign would include the administration of Vitamin A in the forthcoming polio NIDs, targeting children aged 6 to 59 months," she said, adding that it would go a long way towards reducing Vitamin A and health related problems.
For his part, Baboucarr Boye of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare stated that The Gambia has registered 94% national coverage, but still there are more to be done. As he put it, they want to achieve 100% coverage.
Sanna Jawara, the Chief Public Officer, who chaired the briefing also noted that the media has a pivotal role to play in sensitising the masses about polio.
Other speakers at the briefing included Rohey Njie of the Health Education Unit, Mathew Jallow, a nutrition specialist at UNICEF and Alieu Kujabi of NANA, all of whom echoed similar sentiments, while calling on the media to increase the level of awareness.