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Rotarians fight polio in Egypt

Egypt launched National Immunization Day (NID) activities 17 – 20 November, in response to the threat of the importation of polio from an outbreak in Syria.

During the NID, vaccination teams targeted children younger than five, who are most susceptible to this crippling disease.  Immunizations took place in health clinics, as well as central public locations, including town squares and busy main streets.

Egyptian Rotary clubs worked closely with partnering organizations (UNICEF, WHO), and the Egyptian Ministry of Health to reach children with the polio vaccine. Dr. Ahmes Ghabrial , Rotary’s National PolioPlus Chair for Egypt, was at the helm of the effort to coordinate hundreds of Rotarians from across Egypt to volunteer their time and vaccinate children across the entire country during the four day NID.

Though Egypt has been polio-free since 2004, continued polio immunization efforts are of critical importance. Health officials have confirmed 13 polio cases in a polio outbreak in Syria, placing the region at risk of further spread.

In December 2012, health officials detected poliovirus from Pakistan in sewage samples in Cairo. Though no cases of the disease were reported from the 2012 sewage samples, its presence serves as a stark reminder that polio anywhere is a threat to unimmunized children everywhere. 

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