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Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1 launches National Polio Campaign

Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1 launches National Polio Campaign

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1, Dr. Sarian Kamara has officially launched the National Polio Round Three Campaign on Saturday October 27, 2017 at the Ross Road Community Health Centre in Freetown.  (Photo: Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1, Dr. Sarian Kamara)

Speaking during the launching ceremony, Dr. Sarian Kamara underscored the importance of the campaign to educate and raise awareness to make Sierra Leone polio free country.

She informed her audience that there has been no case of wild polio virus in the country since 2010, adding that the oral polio vaccine is given to children to protect them against polio as it is safe and effective.

Dr. Kamara disclosed that the oral polio vaccine will be given to children 0-59 months, and  defaulters children 0-23 months who missed their routine vaccination will be traced in communities and homes given all the vaccines they missed.

She reminded all that the house to house teams will administer Albendazole tablets to children 12- 59 months and Vitamin A capsule to children 6-59 months.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer told the gathering that a total of 1, 592, 635 children under five will be targeted, adding that a total of 1, 683, 000 doses of vaccines procured by the government with support from WHO and UNICEF will be given free of cost.

She disclosed that 15, 856 vaccinators will be deployed across the country, and will also visit schools and market places to ensure that children are vaccinated. She reminded all that polio marklate protects the child from polio which can cause permanent paralysis of the limbs, and admonished parents to ensure that their children don’t miss out on this very important opportunity.

Cross section of mothers and their children

Dr. Sarian Kamara thanked WHO, UNICEF, GAVI, DFID, Rotary Club Sierra Leone and other partners for supporting the government to conduct the campaign, and implored parents to give the vaccinators their fullest cooperation.

Speaking on behalf of the United Nations Country Team, Acting WHO Officer in Charge, Dr. Janet Kayita said a week ago, the world commemorated World Polio Day with good news of a remarkable progress in the fight against the disease.

She informed her audience that 30 years ago when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, polio paralyzed 10 children for life every 15 minutes in nearly every country of the world.

Dr. Kayita disclosed that the whole of 2017, 15 cases of polio has been reported in just two countries, adding that while celebrating the achievements, they should not lower their guards because the 15 cases of wild polio means there are more than 3, 000 infected people.

She commended the country and the Ministry of Health for a successful implementation of the past two campaigns in February and March this year with an achievement of 98 and 99 percent respectively.

The Acting WHO Officer in Charge stated that in Sierra Leone the campaign will target approximately 1.5 million children under the age of five years for a booster dose against polio regardless of previous vaccination status, adding that the campaign is a synchronized activity with all the neighboring countries of Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Mali.

She urged parents to mobilize their neighbors, friends and community members to bring their children for the vaccine, and pledged UN continued support to the government of Sierra Leone to sustain its polio free status until the African Region and Global Polio free certification goal is attained.

Giving an overview of the campaign, the Programme Manager, Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization (CH/EPI), Dr. Dennis Marke said polio virus causes a lifetime paralysis of the child.

He appealed to parents to ensure that their children stay at home from Friday 27 to Monday 30 October 2017 when the vaccination teams visit their houses, adding that polio marklate is the only way to protect your child from getting polio.

The ceremony was chaired by the Chief Community Health Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Abu Conteh.

Highlight of the ceremony include statements by the Chairman, Health Management Committee Ross Road, Alhaji Amadu Deen and a representative of the Ward Councilor and Peer Supervisor, Gibrill Bangura.

A skit performance by a Community Drama and the administration of the polio vaccine climaxed the ceremony.

By Kadrie Koroma

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