UNICEF, WHO support Ukrainian polio vaccination campaign
Six weeks ago, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health reported two polio cases. The children lived in southwest Ukraine, in the Zakarpatska region. One child was 10 months old, and the other was four years old. Neither of them were vaccinated for polio, which health professionals believe contributed to contracting the illness.
Experts say that if the virus is not kept under control, approximately 1.8 million children will be at risk as it spreads throughout Ukraine.
“The longer the polio virus is allowed to circulate in Ukraine, the higher the risk that this outbreak will spread and paralyse more children,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab said. “We call on decision-makers and healthcare providers in Ukraine to take immediate action and vaccinate all children to urgently stop the transmission of the virus.”
Health experts say that the only way to stop polio from spreading and to protect the children in the Ukraine is to begin an immediate, full-scale vaccination campaign.
“Government authorities have the responsibility to protect children against this debilitating disease,” UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said. “I am pleased that today 70 percent of Ukrainian mothers are aware of the benefits of vaccination to protect their children. Vaccination rounds should start now.”