New Anti-polio campaign ends today [Archives:2006/945/Local News]

May 11 2006

SANA'A, May 11 ) Today is the last day of the anti-polio campaign launched on Tuesday, May 9. The campaign which targeted two millions and more than seven hundred thousands children under five years old throughout 13 governorates.

“This is a mop-up campaign covering 13 governorates around the Ibb province, 150 km south of the capital, where polio was last detected in February,” said World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Yemen Dr. Hashim Al-Zain.

The governorates to be targeted include: Ibb; Abyan; Al-Beidha; Hodiedah; Taiz; Thamar; Shabwa; Marib; Dhal'e; Hajja; and the capital province of Sana'a. Some 24,000 health workers and volunteers will be taking part in the campaign.

“The campaign will be carried out from house-to-house” said the Minister of Health and Population Ministry Abdul-Karim Rasea, in a press conference that held on Monday. He confirmed that such campaign is a protective measure to enhance children's immunity to avoid reactivation of the polio virus, He added that low immunization rates among Yemen's children may facilitate the spread of the virus.

“We will keep on working and launching companies until we can stamp polio out of Yemen”

Between April 2005 and February 2006, the Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 474 polio cases, including six fatalities. According to WHO representative, however, subsequent vaccination campaigns have been relatively successful in bringing the epidemic under control. “Only three cases were detected since October 2005, indicating that the immunization campaigns have been very effective,” Al-Zain said. “In some countries, it takes at least a year to stop the virus, but here we brought it under control in only five months.”

Four cases of polio were confirmed in Yemen on 20 April 2005 in Hodidah – the south-western part of the country, on the Red Sea coast. The WHO experts said that The virus that is responsible for the outbreak is the Wild Virus Type 1, which was imported from Sudan after being introduced there from Nigeria. In May 2005 18 cases were reported in different governorates, suggesting the virus had spread across the country. According to the health organisation, Yemen accounted for 36 percent of the 1,310 polio cases registered worldwide in the first nine months of 2005.