OUAGADOUGOU, 18 September 2020 — The Ministry of Health, accompanied by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), is relaunching the polio immunization campaign.
This campaign, which will take place from 18–21 September 2020, will immunize more than 2 million children under the age of five in Plateau-Central, Centre, Centre-Nord, Centre-Ouest, Centre-Sud, Est and Centre-Est.
A case of poliovirus was detected last January in the Ouargaye health district. A localized vaccination campaign was immediately conducted in the Central-Est region before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the effective roll out of the response.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a temporary suspension of vaccination campaigns. This interruption has resulted in the temporary discontinuation of immunization services and an increase in cases of diseases with epidemic potential, particularly polio,” explained James Mugaju, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Burkina Faso.
In June, the national disease surveillance system identified nine new polio cases and more than 600 cases of acute flaccid paralysis, a syndrome which can be caused by polio.
As part of the immunization campaign, UNICEF is helping to procure and deliver more than 2,290,000 vaccine doses and is supporting community engagement. More than 5,000 mobilizers and health workers will go door-to-door to identify, sensitize and vaccinate every child aged 0–59 months.
A total of 39,500 masks and more than 26,500 bottles of alcohol-based hand rub were made available to vaccinators in order to comply with the preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 during door-to-door vaccination.
“UNICEF and WHO are fully engaged in the battle to end the polio epidemic. We call on all stakeholders, including local authorities, community leaders and parents, to support and facilitate the work of immunization teams. Polio is a threat to children’s health: we have to get this disease out of this country,” said Mr Mugaju.
“While access to health care is reduced due to insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to step up our efforts to reach every child, to vaccinate them and to immunize them against all vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio.”
Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a highly contagious viral infection that mainly affects children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated water or food. After multiplying in the intestine, it attacks the nervous system.
Burkina Faso was declared free of wild poliovirus in 2015, but is currently one of 15 countries on the African continent experiencing outbreaks of paralysis cases related to other forms of poliovirus.
A second vaccination campaign will take place in early October 2020, covering nine regions: Plateau-Central, Centre, Centre-Nord, Centre-Ouest, Centre-Sud, Est, Centre-Est, Sahel and Nord.
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 A projected target of 2,011,707 children in 7 regions: Plateau-Central, Centre, Centre-Nord, Centre-Ouest, Centre-Sud, Est and Centre-Est.