DR Congo continues polio vaccination drive

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has begun the second round of a mass immunization campaign in nine provinces targeted at immunizing all children under the age of five against polio.

“All children have the same right to be protected from polio,” Vu Thi, the UNICEF representative in DR Congo Pierrette, said, adding that an inability to make this occur in the present, “will be expensive tomorrow, in terms of human lives and resources.”

The campaign in the DR Congo is just one part of a synchronized mass immunization that hopes to cover 72 million children across the entire African continent. There are a total of 290,000 social mobilizing staff and vaccinators involved with more than 71,000 working in the DR Congo alone. They are delivering two drops each of the oral polio vaccine to children who live in the highest risk areas in 16 different countries.

There have been 56 registered cases of polio in the DR Congo in 2010 as of November 18. The disease re-emerged in the country in 2006 as a result of a lack of full immunization coverage in the poorest and most remote areas.

UNICEF and its partners have advocated for the campaign to take place in areas controlled by armed groups so that no child would be left out. Some of UNICEF’s partners include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.