UN TO VACCINATE 7.8 MILLION SUDANESE CHILDREN AGAINST POLIO
An estimated 7.8 million children in Sudan will be targeted in the next round of a UN-backed polio immunization campaign, despite ongoing security concerns.
Led by the health ministries in both northern and southern Sudan, and backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, the National Immunization Days campaign aims to ensure that Sudan remains polio-free in 2006.
Approximately 40,000 volunteer vaccinators will travel from house to house in every community during the three-day campaign, administering oral polio vaccines to all children under 5 and vitamin A supplements to 4.9 million children ages 6 months to 5 years. In southern Sudan, health workers will also undertake guinea-worm surveillance, the UN said.
Earlier, smaller campaigns in 2006 resulted in 1.3 million children being successfully vaccinated in Darfur. No polio cases have been reported anywhere in Sudan since June 2005, and in 2004 Sudan was close to being declared polio-free. With many children living in areas that are hard to reach, and the risks of cross-border transmission growing due to population displacement, immunization campaigns are a critical addition to routine immunization efforts, especially as health infrastructures are still weak in many parts of the country, according to the UN.