Polio: ‘43% of North Darfur children immunised’

A child receives an oral polio vaccine during an earlier campaign in Darfur (File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran UNAMID)


Some 43 per cent of targeted children in North Darfur have been covered by the second day of a state-wide immunisation campaign against polio and vitamin A deficiency on Sunday, authorities say, which they hail as ‘encouraging’.

Youssef Abdelrahman, director of the Expanded Immunisation Programme in North Darfur, says that the vaccination campaign against polio and vitamin A deficiency targets 170,161 children in 18 localities in the state.

He told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that the coverage on the second day of the campaign, had reached 43 per cent, and the reporting rate was 44 per cent, which he described as reassuring, stressing the need to reach all targeted children.

He appealed to the public to vaccinate all children to avoid polio, as ‘imported’ cases have been reported from Nigeria recently.

Previous outbreak

As reported last year, according to UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sudan’s outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) has come to an end.

“Sudan has been declared polio free, two years after a confirmed outbreak triggered by the importation of Polio virus type 2 cases from neighbouring Chad,” reads a statement by UNICEF on September 17.

Declared in 15 out of 18 states in 2020, the outbreak was caused by the vaccine-derived poliovirus, paralyzing 58 children. Sudan has not recorded any cases of cVDPV2 since December 2020, according to UNICEF.

The decades-long campaign to eradicate polio globally was already suffering major setbacks in 2019, before the declaration of Covid-19 as a global pandemic.

On November 28, 2020, the first round of a national polio vaccination campaign was launched by the Sudanese Ministry of Health in Khartoum. The first campaign reached 97 per cent of the target population, and the second rounds conducted in January and February 2021 reached 100 per cent of the target population.

The new outbreak in Sudan “presented a big challenge and was a risk to the children in Sudan,” said UNICEF’s Health Officer, Kattab Obeid.

Circulating VDPVs in the past have been rapidly stopped with two or three rounds of immunisation campaigns. The solution is the same for all polio outbreaks: immunise every child several times with the oral vaccine to stop polio transmission, regardless of the origin of the virus.