Sierra Leone to begin country-wide polio vaccination campaign
Children under five years around Sierra Leone will from Friday to 29 April, receive free oral polio vaccine from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s vaccination team which will be moving from house to house administering the vaccine, as a way of making Sierra Leone a polio free country.
The Acting Programme Manager of Expanded Programme on Immunization and Child Health, Dr. Foday Dafae, said in a press briefing held on Wednesday in Freetown that the Oral Polio Vaccine targets children from 0-59 months in different parts of the country, including border areas.
He said immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and prevents between 2-3 million deaths every year, adding that immunization protects against diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella and tetanus across the globe.
This vaccine when taken correctly, the doctor said, would protect the lives of children in the country so they could live a healthy and happy life, adding “the polio vaccine campaign will be synchronized with other West African countries in response to the polio outbreak in the sub-region”.
Dr. Dafae added that immunization does not only protect children from vaccine preventable diseases, it also serves as a platform to deliver other life-saving interventions such as vitamin A supplementation, distribution of insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and de-worming medicines for intestinal worms.
The Acting Programme Manager noted that in recognition of that, the African Health Ministers resolved to institutionalising an annual African Vaccination Week for sustaining advocacy, expanding community participation and improving immunization service delivery.
To ensure successful NIDs, he said, there is need for commitment, proper planning, close monitoring of the implementation, and adequate coordination mechanism at all levels.
He noted that with strong government leadership and the effective collaboration between WHO and UNICEF and other key partners, the campaign is expected to contribute significantly to the global polio eradication goal.
Dr. Dafae called on all other government sectors, religious and traditional leaders, political leaders, parents and caregivers to ensure that all children 0-59 months receive oral polio vaccine during the campaign period.