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2.8 Million Children in Sudan Were Vaccinated Against Polio in Just 3 Days

In just three days, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sudanese Ministry of Health vaccinated 2.8 million children against polio across 10 states in Sudan.

UNICEF and WHO provided almost 5 million doses of oral polio vaccines, as well as support to the government of Sudan to ensure a successful vaccination campaign, which took place from July 16 to July 18, according to a UNICEF press release.

Polio is an infectious disease caused by poliovirus. There are three strains of the virus. Type 2 was officially declared eradicated in September 2015 and type 3 has not been detected since November 2012. It is assumed that type 1 is the only type that remains and the cause for the minimal cases of polio that occur each year.

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Vaccination efforts are essential in reaching the goal of eradicating this disease forever.

Support from UNICEF and WHO consisted of planning, executing, and providing training for thousands of health worker volunteers in Sudan. The organizations also monitored the application of the vaccination process onsite, according to the press release.

“This campaign is critical in protecting Sudan’s children from polio: a paralyzing disease. It is a milestone in keeping Sudan polio free,” Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF’s representative in Sudan, said in the statement.

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The three-day campaign not only delivered the polio vaccine to children, but also provided them with vitamin A supplements.

“WHO has supported all campaign implementation process based on bottom-up planning and ensured that all children received effective [vaccines], which will build on children’s immunity and contribute to health security. WHO confirms its commitment to health and well-being of people in Sudan,” Dr. Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Sudan, said.

The second phase of sub-national immunization days, which are expected to reach 1.6 million children under five, are planned for October.

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In total, the sub-national immunization days — which are campaigns that deliver additional doses of oral poliovirus vaccine — in Sudan are set to reach 4.2 million children across 79 localities. About 23,500 health workers have already been trained in the process of house-to-house visits, the statement says.

Polio is endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. There were 22 cases of wild polio in 2017 and 13 so far in 2018.