A campaign prompted by the World Health Organization’s identification of polio Outbreaks in North Eastern Nigeria- two years after the scourge appeared beaten in Africa, will see a renewed bid to reach every child under five in 13 countries from Mauritania to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced on Friday.
Some 190,000 vaccinators would travel house-to-house and visit trains and bus stations and border posts across 13 countries, carrying the vaccines in ice-filled bags to ensure they do not spoil.
On the latest development, GPEI Director Michel Zaffran said “We are hoping for at least 90 percent coverage – but we will vaccinate as many as possible to ensure that the virus cannot circulate in any given community,”
If unstopped early enough, the virus invades a person’s nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours. The virus has been reduced 99.9 percent since the eradication campaign began in 1988.
Nigeria, which reported four fresh cases last August, has witnessed mass displacement and societal breakdown caused by fighting between the extremist group Boko Haram and the Nigerian army. Unhygienic situations are also prevalent in displaced camps in the area.
Rotary International, which is part of GPEI, is also supporting the campaign.