Congo adds polio vaccine to immunization schedule

The Republic of Congo (DRC) is celebrating African Vaccination Week by introducing the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into its routine immunization schedule, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said on Tuesday.

“As long as a child somewhere is not protected against this crippling disease, every child is at risk,” Anuradha Gupta, deputy CEO of Gavi, said.

The addition of the vaccine will benefit more than 2 million Congolese children every year.

A ceremony to launch the phased introduction of the vaccine, which will be offered to all children born across the country each year, recently was held at a new health center in Mbankana, Maluku II health zone.

The first doses of the vaccine will be delivered this month in the provinces of Bandundu, Bas Congo, Equateur and Kinshasa. An additional four provinces will introduce the vaccine in May, and children in the final three provinces will receive the vaccine in June.

In May 2013, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, which calls on countries to introduce at least one dose of IPV as preparation for the phased removal of oral polio vaccines.

“Immunization remains the most cost-effective intervention to reduce the number of cases of disease and disability in children," UNICEF's representative in DRC, Pascal Villeneuve, said. "Together with its partners, DRC is making sure that its children enjoy their right to be vaccinated and protected so they can grow, develop and lead healthy lives.”