Panafrican News Agency

Gambia to begin four days Polio Immunization campaign on November 20

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF-Gambia office, will start a four-day massive Polio immunization campaign across the country, targeting over 300,000 children.

In a statement made available to PANA here Tuesday, Toshiko Takahashi, UNICEF–Gambia representative, said an outbreak of polio virus type 2 in The Gambia did not come as a surprise since polio outbreak was earlier reported in neighbouring Senegal.

She said an outbreak of poliovirus type 2 in any given country was a siren call that immunity level in the affected communities had become increasingly low.

“The only way to stop the transmission is through vaccination, using oral polio vaccine. An outbreak like this threatens to undo decades of progress achieved by the Ministry of Health supported by UNICEF, WHO and all partners in polio eradication programme in The Gambia.

“In 2021, January to September polio 3 coverage is 64% its commitment to the global polio eradication goal. The recent confirmed polio outbreak is a call for every one of us to work together and persistently arrest the situation as soon as possible,” she added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ifeanyi Undenweze, WHO representative, affirmed that The Gambia had confirmed 10 cases from environmental samples this year, adding that all the cases reported from The Gambia were from the environmental samples and no confirmed cases in human.

“The objective of the supplemental immunization activity (SIA) is to stop the outbreaks with two drops of polio vaccine to children under five years of age. This will interrupt the transmission of the virus.

"There is no cure for polio; it can only be prevented, polio vaccine given multiple times can protect a child from polio virus for life.

“WHO has contributed about GMD9, 000,000 to the training and movement of about 1,666 personnel as vaccinators, supervisors and monitors that would be distributed throughout the country to supervise and monitor the campaign,” Dr. Undenweze said.

However, Sidat Fofana, Director of Health Services at the MOH, said this year was going to be interesting because they were going to have polio vaccination at the same time sensitize people to get Covid-19 vaccination.

-0-PANA MSS/RA 16Nov2021