UNICEF takes aim at polio outbreak in Ukraine

UN urges response to stop polio virus spread
UN urges response to stop polio virus spread | Courtesy of
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have urged parents living in Ukraine to have their children receive the polio vaccine.

“The only effective way to protect children from polio is vaccination,” Giovanni Barberis, UNICEF’s representative in Ukraine, said. “The available vaccines supplied by UNICEF should be used as soon as possible to ensure children are protected from polio in Ukraine.”

There have been serious challenges facing aid organizations as they try to gain access to the 5 million people living in Ukraine who have been affected by the region’s conflict with Russia, which began in April 2014.

“WHO recommends large-scale immunization activity,” Dorit Nitzan, head of the WHO Ukraine office, said. “The quality of the polio vaccine provided to Ukraine is in line with WHO pre-qualification standards. It is safe and effective and ready to be distributed and used.”

Polio, an infectious illnesses, causes paralysis or death. As of today, there have been two polio cases in Ukraine. The children live in Zakarpatska oblast. Neither of them, ages 10 months old and 4 years old, were vaccinated, and they have been paralyzed by the disease.

“I appeal to families to promptly bring their children for immunization, as soon as the Ministry of Health begins the immunization campaign over the coming days and weeks,” Nitzan said.

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