Polio Vaccination Campaign of 1.5 Million Children in Sierra Leone Ends Today

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

In a collaborative effort spanning six West African nations, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and others a synchronized supplementary oral polio immunization campaign commenced on Friday, May 10th, 2024. Targeting children under the age of five (0-59 months), the campaign, provided free of charge to families, aims to safeguard young children’s health and curb the spread of the polio virus.

Joining Sierra Leone in this crucial initiative are Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso. With a whopping 1.8 million doses of vaccines allocated for the campaign, the vaccination drive will span four days, concluding today Monday 13th May 2024.

Across these six West African nations, a staggering ninety million children are slated to receive the polio vaccine, with Sierra Leone alone aiming to vaccinate 1.5 million children through house-to-house visits.

Harold Thomas, Head of Risk Communication at the Ministry of Health, underscored the campaign’s significance, particularly in the wake of the recent detection of the polio virus Type 2 in the sewage of Mabella Community earlier this year. While affirming that polio has been eradicated in the country, he stressed the necessity for proactive measures to prevent its resurgence and safeguard children’s lives.

Highlighting the importance of the supplementary campaign, Harold Thomas emphasized its role in disrupting the transmission chain of the polio virus. He urged parents to ensure their children under the age of five receive the vaccine, reiterating its critical role in maintaining public health.

Dr. Thompson Igbu, speaking on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), emphasized the regional implications of the polio outbreak, noting that the variant detected in Sierra Leone originated from Guinea.

He commended Sierra Leone’s swift response to contain the potential spread of the virus and reiterated the ongoing risk posed by the outbreak.

Representing UNICEF, Rudolf Schwenk expressed gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with the Ministry of Health in this vital vaccination effort.

He emphasized the significance of partnership and confirmed UNICEF’s unwavering commitment to supporting Sierra Leone throughout the campaign.

Dr. Mohamed Alex Vandi, Deputy Executive Director of the National Public Health Agency (NPHA), reassured the public that Sierra Leone remains polio-free, clarifying that the detection in Marbella Community was a mere sample and not a confirmed case.

He stressed the importance of vaccination in averting the devastating effects of polio and urged parents to actively participate in the campaign.

With thousands of trained vaccinators deployed and ample doses of vaccines distributed, Sierra Leone stands prepared to protect its children and uphold its polio-free status through this concerted effort.


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