Massive polio vaccination campaign targets over 116 million children in Africa


Over 116 million children in Africa will receive polio vaccination in a campaign that is aimed at completely eradicating the killer disease in the continent, the deputy United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday.

All children under five years of age in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent, Haq said at a daily news briefing.

The synchronized vaccination campaign will be one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa.

The campaign will involve more than 190,000 vaccinators from the 13 countries.

Of particular concern are the five Lake Chad Basin countries. Four children were paralyzed by the disease last year in northeastern Nigeria where insecurity cut off health access. This area is one of the few where polio is active.

“Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable, but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal,” UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier said.