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Unicef, Sudan start polio shots

April 12 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Polio vaccination (file photo)
Polio vaccination (file photo)

The Sudanese government and Unicef have launched a nationwide polio vaccination campaign that targets 4 million children under the age of five.

The campaign includes is cascaded over three days in a total of 123 localities in fifteen high-risk states, including those in Darfur. Unicef and the government will partner up with other organisations during the campaign, that also provides vitamin A supplementation.

The agency released a statement on Tuesday, explaining that it supports the Ministry of Health to do door-to-door vaccinations. It facilitated the procurement of 4.8 million doses of t-OPV.

The second vaccination phase is scheduled for September. The current vaccinations are accompanied by awareness-raising campaign on social media.

Unicef is concerned that some 200,000 children in the conflict-affected Jebel Marra, South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile are again at risk of missing out on another lifesaving intervention, as some have been for almost five years.

“This cannot continue”, says representative Geert Cappelaere. “We, repetitively rescind on our collective accountability to these children”.

On World Polio Day on 24 October 2015, Cappelaere warned that an outbreak could occur very soon in Sudan. The three war-affected areas have not been accessible by aid groups for years.

Sudan has been polio-free since 2009, however, evidence of polio virus circulation in several neighbouring countries in the Horn of Africa keeps Sudan at high risk.

On 7 March, MSF-E, with the support of the North Darfur Ministry of Health, Unicef, and WHO – launched a local measles and polio (with vitamin A) vaccination campaign targeting 26,480 children from 6 months to 15 years.

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