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10.03.2005 General News

100 million children to benefit from mass polio immunization

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Accra, March 10, GNA - One hundred million children from 22 countries will benefit from a mass polio immunization drive, according to a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The programme jointly sponsored by World Health Organisation (WHO), Rotary International, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the first in a series to stamp out polio from Africa.

The disease saw a fierce resurgence last year endangering global eradication efforts.

Some of the countries joining the mass polio immunization for the first time include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea and C=F4te d'Ivoire.

Dr Ezio Murzi, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said, "by reaching children cut off from the eradication effort by insecurity and the threat of violence African leaders have a real opportunity to halt polio's advance."

Dr Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said eradication in Africa required not only reaching all children in the newly infected areas, but most importantly immunizing every child in those countries which have interrupted transmission such as Nigeria and Niger. The statement said African leaders had redoubled their commitment in the face of the epidemic, as evidenced in recent declarations at the African Union summit.

Marie Irene Richmond-Ahoua, Rotary's National Polio Plus Chair for Cote d'voire, said: "Polio eradication has the unswerving commitment of all Africans, from parents and children themselves." Vaccinators would also be delivering vitamin A drops with the polio vaccine in many places, an immunity strategy that has saved an estimated 1.2 million lives over 12 years.

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