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Unicef warns of polio outbreak in Sudan

October 26 - 2015 KHARTOUM
A Darfuri child receives a polio vaccination (file photo)
A Darfuri child receives a polio vaccination (file photo)

The Unicef representative in Sudan warned that polio may break out in the country’s conflict-affected regions.

Speaking on the occasion of the World Polio Day on Saturday, Unicef representative Geert Cappelaere said that 99.9 percent of the work to eradicate polio worldwide is done, but a significant part of the remaining work lies in Sudan.

More than 200,000 children under five in Blue Nile state, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and Jebel Marra in Darfur have not received a polio vaccinations for the past four years.

“Sudan is home to one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises”​

Without vaccinations, a polio outbreak could occur very soon, warned Cappelaere. The three war-affected areas have not been accessible by aid groups for years, he said, noting that Sudan is home to one of the largest humanitarian crises on earth today, with more than three million children suffering.

Cappelaere said that no polio cases were reported this year, but pointed out the massive measles outbreak in the areas this year.

He welcomed the commitments recently announced by the Sudanese government and rebel forces to end the violence, but regretted that they have not yet been translated into action.

Eradicating polio

Never before have so few children in the world had polio, the UN children's fund wrote in a press release on Friday, Nigeria was said to be removed from the list of polio endemic countries last month, having successfully interrupted transmission of wild poliovirus. According to Unicef, such an achievement has encouraged countries in the African region to get closer to being certified polio-free. Peter Crowley, head of the Polio Unit: “Progress to end polio is real and dramatic, with now just two countries in the world where the wild poliovirus has never been interrupted: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“But – and it’s a big but – until all children everywhere are consistently and routinely immunised against polio, the threat remains.”


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