U.N. looks to enable delayed polio campaign in Sudan

The U.N. Security Council is working to determine how to enable a delayed polio campaign in Sudan to go forward, the international agency said on Monday.

Liu Jieyi, this month's council president from China, said the delay of the vaccination campaign is a concern for the council.

"It is an issue that bears on the well-being of children," Liu said. "Children are the future. So we do hope that the conditions will be there so that this polio vaccination campaign can go ahead immediately covering those children that need such a vaccination."

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Health Organization and the U.N. Children's Fund proposed a two-week vaccination campaign. The campaign was scheduled to start in South Kordofan and Blue Nile on November 5. The two areas are under control for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North and differences over technical plans for the campaign are currently unresolved.

"We are, on the U.N. side ready, if we get the green light," John Ging, the director of OCHA's operation division, said. "Sadly, and typically, since the council passed its resolution calling for unfettered humanitarian access, once again we don't have any access at all. We found 18 months ago when they passed the resolution that it did create momentum, but unfortunately we have been filibustered with process, discussions and disputes which have amounted to no access to humanitarian agencies."

OCHA's goal is to vaccinate 165,000 children against polio. Polio is caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. Five to 10 percent of those paralyzed die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.