By Ayodele Deen Cole
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners today announced the completion of four days nationwide polio immunization carried out in the country on 24-27 March 2017.
Over 1.5 million children under the age of five were targeted in the campaign.
Head of the National Immunization program at MOHS, Dr Dennis Marke, said the campaign was very successful in term of reach and coverage, adding that a good number of volunteer vaccinators, supervisors, social mobilisers and monitors took part in the exercise, to save the lives of millions of children.
The polio vaccination campaign is one of the largest immunization exercise undertaken in the country.
“Vaccines are safe and free and critical for saving lives,” said Dr. Chimbaru, Acting Country Representative for the WHO in Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of UN partners. “Remember, the health of your child is in your hands! Make sure you take your child to get all their vaccines so that they have the best possible chance at life.”A Nurse at Wellington Community Health Centre, Kamsa Sall, said “there was large turn-out of parents and children,” adding further “before now we were not seeing strong passion from some parents to take the vaccine, due to some cultural and traditional misconceptions and other myth related to the polio illness.”
A nurse at Allen town Community Health Centre, Mariatu Dumbuya, said letters were distributed to different schools and community elders before the start of the campaign and also that community social mobilisers were instrumental in bringing together people from hill top and riverine areas.
Last year, the country participated in a remarkable synchronised global switch from using trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine. This was a major milestone in accelerating the Polio Eradication Initiative and the Polio End Game Strategy, which aims to completely eradicate Polio from the world. According to government data:
Four rounds of Polio Immunisation Days, targeting children aged 0 to 59 months, achieved on average, coverage of 98%. Coverage of the Penta 3 vaccine, which provides protection against five major diseases, increased from 85% in 2015 to 98% as of October 2016.