ABIDJAN, 27 March 2000 (IRIN) -
A successful first round of polio immunisations took place at the weekend
in regional centres throughout Sierra Leone, a social mobilisation consultant
for the National Immunisation Days (NID) programme told IRIN on Monday.
"There was a massive turnout in all the centres as well as reports in the north of a demand for increased vaccinations," consultant Alfred George, who is also a parliamentarian, said. He said that the reports, mainly from Koinadugu District, indicate a greater sense of security on the part of civilians as they slowly come out of the bush to take part in the programme.
The vaccinations, the first for the year, started on Saturday and ended on Sunday. Before that, an agreement was reached between its organisers and leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), former Sierra Leone Army (SLA) and other ex-combatants to ensure free access and the succesful completion of the NID.
"We have been in radio contact with people on the ground and there have been no adverse reports, no abductions," George said. Vaccinations took place in all areas, even in some northern and eastern areas which had been previously inacessible. "We have moved a step or two forward in districts such as Bombali, Kono and Kailahun," he said.
The next round of vaccinations, organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, UN Mission in Sierra Leone, Rotary International and NGOs, will begin on 22 April, George said.
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