UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said Central African Republic is particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease, given its numerous borders with countries where the polio virus still circulates.
UNICEF also points that ongoing violence and insecurity has worsened the situation and led to an estimated 171,751 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returning refugees who lack access to basic medical care.
To address the spread of the crippling disease, a United Nations-backed immunization campaign to eradicate polio among Central African Republic children was launched today as part of urgent efforts to deal with the resurgence of the disease in the impoverished country.
Last year, CAR detected four imported cases of polio after two years without registering any cases. As a result, the Government is launching a vaccination campaign that seeks to reach children in hard-to-reach populations as well as those living in conflict and post-conflict zones where there is limited access to health services.
According to UNICEF, the campaign will have health workers going door to door to deliver polio vaccines, vitamin A supplements and provide de-worming treatment to hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of zero to five years old.
UNCEF reports that routine data shows that only 68 per cent of children in CAR under five years of age are completely vaccinated against polio.
During the campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF will both be working to reinforce Government efforts towards immunization activities.
On October 2011, nearly 300,000 health workers are fanning out across Africa to reach 72 million children as part of a United Nations-backed bid to drive polio out of the continent.
The virus could infect virtually everyone who is not yet immune through vaccination, and there is no cure.
Polio remains endemic in six countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Niger and Egypt. The campaign toward eradication suffered a setback in recent years when the virus began to reappear in countries thought previously free of the disease.