Nationwide polio campaign launched

Jan 12, 2009 (DVB), More than seven million children will be vaccinated against polio in a new campaign run by the Burmese Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation.

According to IRIN, the news service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the programme aims to immunize 7.4 million children against the disease.

The campaign will target children across the country, including those in remote areas who have missed out on previous vaccination programmes and those in areas affected by Cyclone Nargis.

Dr Myint Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Medical Association (Upper Burma), said the country had been declared polio-free in 2003 but the disease had resurfaced more recently.

"[Burma] was declared free from polio about five years ago as the risk of the disease had sunk to a low enough level where we could claim it had been eradicated after many years of vaccinations across the country," he said.

"Lately there have been cases of children with similar symptoms to those of polio so we had to start the vaccinations again."

Dr Myint Oo urged doctors and parents to ensure children were protected against the disease.

"Even though we are not sure whether the disease making a return or not, it is still our duty to take the necessary preventative measures," he said.

"We strongly encourage doctors to give the necessary medication to their child patients and also parents to make sure their children are on the vaccination programmes."

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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