Polio And De-Worming Campaigns In Liberia
UN-SUPPORTED POLIO AND DE-WORMING CAMPAIGNS IN LIBERIA TO PROTECT 1.2 CHILDREN
New York, Nov 9 2005 12:00PM
Liberia’s third round of National Immunization Days will be kicked off tomorrow, aiming to provide 1.2 million children under five years of age with the oral polio vaccine and de-worming medicine, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.
This round is one of four national vaccination drives that is planned for Liberia in 2005 to vaccinate all children under five years with the free and safe polio vaccine. During the five-day drive, children between the ages of two and five will also receive one deworming Albendazole tablet. Worms are a significant cause of malnutrition, stunting growth and causing severe anaemia, dysentery, and problems with learning and memory.
“Thursday’s launch is part of our mobilization and dissemination strategy to ensure the success of round three,” said Ambassador Juli Endee, chairperson of Liberia’s Social Mobilization Committee. “We have organized over 2,000 county level social mobilizers and traditional and religious leaders.
“We’ve held consultative meetings with county superintendents, managers, and local language radio producers of community radio stations, as well as trained social mobilizers and vaccination team leaders in interpersonal communication to enable them to communicate effectively to parents and caregivers about the importance of getting their children protected from polio.”
Effective information dissemination, partnership, and mobilization are critical to the success of the national polio eradication campaign, according to Angela Kearney, UNICEF’s Representative to Liberia. “The battle to rid Liberia of polio is not yet over. We must focus on the hardest to reach areas of the country to administer the polio drops to children,” she said.
UNICEF’s support to the campaign, with World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, includes the training of county and district level social mobilizers, volunteers and local leaders, helping to decentralize and manage cold chain systems throughout the country, and providing more than a million doses of the vaccine.
Liberia is among 23 countries in Africa battling to eradicate polio. The broad international aim is to vaccinate 80 million children across sub-Saharan Africa against the polio virus, UNICEF says. A next in Liberia is planned for mid-December.