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In-Brief: Bid to wipe out polio virus in Sudan
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Feb 23, 2010 - 9:27:25 AM

In-Brief: Bid to wipe out polio virus in Sudan


Photo: Skye Wheeler/IRIN
Children at a past polio vaccination: Nine million children are being vaccinated countrywide in a project run by the Ministry of Health, with the UN Children’s Fund and World Health Organization (file photo)
KHARTOUM, 23 February 2010 (IRIN) - After the polio virus re-emerged in Sudan two years ago, nine million children are being vaccinated in a project run by the Ministry of Health, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).

"The virus does not have a passport, and so it can be transmitted to Sudan through Chad. There are similar programmes [being] conducted in all Sudan's neighbours," Setena Ahmed Sayed, vaccination advocacy and communications officer at WHO, and based in the Ministry of Health, said.

The main obstacle to the full eradication of polio, according to UNICEF representative in Sudan, Nils Kastberg, is the inability to reach all children under five in the remote areas of Southern Sudan, which has less than 50km of tarmac road. "It's extremely difficult to reach everywhere. And you have a lot of population movements."

The disease had been eradicated in Sudan, Africa's largest country, until 27 cases were discovered in an outbreak in 2008. Last year, 45 cases were registered, 40 in Southern Sudan, UNICEF said.

"Sometimes you might do a round and you reach most but a few might not be reached. That's why we are constantly doing new rounds," Kastberg said. "We hope 2010 will be a year in which we see no new cases."



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