National Polio Campaign Targets Over One Million Children

Freetown, Sept. 30, 2015 (MOHS) – The Ministry of Health and Sanitation National Polio Immunization Campaign which starts on Friday 2nd to Monday 5th October 2015 is targeting 1,493,785 children 0-59 months countrywide.

polioCross section of the press

Addressing journalists at a press briefing held at the Ministry’s conference hall in Freetown, The Manager, National Expanded Programme on Immunization and Child Health, Dr. Dennis Marke said the national coverage for all vaccines dropped as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak which led to underutilization of health facilities for fear of contracting Ebola.

polio1Dr. Dennis Marke, Manager EPI/Child Health Programme

He said the objective of the campaign is to achieve oral polio vaccine coverage of at least 95 percent to the respective target population, and aims to achieve at least 95 percent of children 0-59 months old to receive polio vaccine, adding that 95 percent of defaulting children will be provided the missed routine vaccines.

Dr. Marke briefed journalists that polio infection is mostly unseen, pointing out that only 0.5 percent-1 percent of children infected with polio develop paralysis. He stated that the safest way to prevent re-introduction of wild polio virus transmission is to ensure high level of population immunity against polio through campaigns.

He said the strategy that would be used during the campaign is the house-to-house with a team of two vaccinators for 4 days. Vaccinators he continued will evaluate triage and record cases while the other vaccinators would administer the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and vaccinate defaulters.

The Programme Manager told journalists that daily review meeting during implementation will be held at District Health Management Teams level, adding that a Command Centre will also be set up to address issues that may arise from the field and to receive daily reports.

He disclosed that children affected by the recent flooding in Freetown presently at the Attouga and the National Stadiums are also targeted beneficiary.

WHO Team Leader on Expanded Programme Immunization (EPI) Dr. Mitula Pamela told the press that although the last case of polio was in 2010, the country is still not yet free as polio is still in the sub region.

She informed the press that the polio campaign is being synchronized with other countries in the sub region.

UNICEF EPI Specialist, Dr. Nuhu Maksha and the Programme Manager, Health Education Division, Mr. Lansana Conteh also made meaningful contributions at the briefing.

The press briefing was chaired by the Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Jonathan Abass Kamara.