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Aid Needed For Ethiopia Polio Epidemic Spreads

Urgent Aid Needed For Ethiopia As Sudan's Polio Epidemic Crosses Borders, UN Says

Ethiopian children urgently need protection from Sudan's polio epidemic, the United Nations agencies for public health and children said today in appealing for nearly $5 million for an immunization campaign against the paralyzing disease in April and May.

A polio outbreak in Sudan had paralyzed 132 Sudanese children since last May and late last month the World Health Organization (WHO) found the same genetic variant in two cases in Ethiopia, WHO and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.

The two agencies said they planned to inoculate 14.7 million Ethiopian children younger than 5 during the campaign, as part of their 18-year effort to eradicate the disease globally by the end of the year. Ethiopia had been polio-free since 2001, they added.

The response to the Sudanese outbreak was to immunize children in Ethiopia's Tigray area and the districts at highest risk in the first week of March and to deploy 100,000 health workers and trained volunteers door to door to administer the oral vaccine on National Immunization Days (NIDs) in the second week of April and the first week in May, they said.

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