By Jonathan Abass Kamara and Kadrie Koroma
The Ministry of Health and Health in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners are poised to kick start the National Polio Round Four Campaign on Friday October 28, 2016 targeting children o-59 months old countrywide.
Cross section of the press
Briefing journalists at a press conference held in the conference hall of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation at Youyi Building in Freetown, the Manager National Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization (CH/EPI), Dr. Dennis Marke said the campaign is part of the government’s efforts to prevent vaccine preventable diseases and maintain polio eradication of supplementary immunization activities nationwide. Round Three, Dr. Marke reminded the press, have already been conducted in February, April and September 2016.
Manager CH/EPI, Dr. Dennis Marke
Round Four, Dr. Marke reiterated will be conducted from October 28 to 31, 2016 during which vaccination teams would visit household to administer Oral Polio Vaccine to all beneficiary children.
He further disclosed that routine vaccines would be administered to all children 0-23 months that were unfortunate and missed any other vaccines.
Dr. Marke underscored the importance of the vaccine as a life-saving intervention with the aim to achieve 95 percent coverage for oral polio vaccine among the beneficiary 0-59 months of children living in Sierra Leone. Other key intervention the Programme Manager said would include Expanded Programme on Immunization defaulter identification and vaccination with the focus to reach many children, and to provide another opportunity for reaching missed children. An effort aimed at complementing the routine immunization, Dr. Marke reaffirmed.
Commenting on the political commitment, Dr. Marke reiterated government’s commitment to provide quality accessible and affordable health care delivery services to the nation, and the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah’s dynamic leadership to launch the campaign at Grafton Health Centre come Friday October 28, 2016.
He reiterated that target group for the national polio campaign includes all children under five years and defaulter tracing for all children less than two years. He encouraged mothers and child minders and communities to take their children for “Marklate” by way of protecting them from getting polio. Dr. Marke maintained that the vaccine is safe and free.
He reiterated his appeal to ensure that children are not missed from receiving the marklate, and that if the teams did not visit a house, mothers should visit the nearest health centre or maternal child health post. Dr. Marke reminded parents that the more marklate a child gets, the more the child is protected from polio, adding that the vaccine is safe, and does no harm even to the sick child.
Missing or refusal to take the vaccine, Dr. Marke said increases the risk of polio, and advocated for support from caregiver, parents and the entire community, noting that the polio virus causes a life time paralysis.
Contributions from partners and the press formed high point during the briefing.