WHO and UNICEF support the Ministry of Health for mass polio vaccination

01 December 2015
WHO and UNICEF support the Ministry of Health for mass polio vaccination
Polio remains a concern for health workers in Myanmar. Photo: UNICEF/Myanmar

WHO and UNICEF are supporting the Ministry of Health to conduct a polio vaccination campaign in 102 townships across Myanmar, targeting 1.4 million children under 5 years of age,according to a joint press release on 30 November.
The campaign will start off in early December, with rounds of vaccination conducted across 15 high risks townships in Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Bago and Ayeyarwady.
According to the statement, “Earlier this year, two cases of vaccine-derived polio virus infection were reported amongst children in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. The emergence of such cases of vaccine-derived polio virus is due to low immunization coverage. In fact, the routine immunization coverage in Rakhine state has been below 80% for the last years. In 2014, in some of the State’s townships only 27% of children received the three recommended doses of oral polio vaccine.
The most effective way to stop the circulation of this virus is to increase the immunity of children through increased routine immunization coverage. Therefore, the first three rounds of this campaign - scheduled on 5-7 December, 26-28 December and 16-18 January - will target all children under five in these 15 high risk townships across the country.
In addition, two additional rounds of polio immunization will be conducted in another 87 townships in January-February 2016. The Ministry of Health will also introduce the use of Inactivated Polio Vaccine across the country, which will further reduce the risks of vaccine-derived infection outbreaks. In total, more than 3.8 million doses of oral polio vaccine will be provided to reach 1.4 million children under five years old.”
The South East Asia Region, including Myanmar, was declared polio-free in 2014.
The statement ends, “WHO and UNICEF urge the government to expand routine immunization against all antigens to protect children against preventable and debilitating diseases. One immediate step to help reaching this goal is to prioritise vaccines and cold chain in the government’s health budget, which is currently under discussion. The concerted efforts of the government and all health partners will result in improved routine immunization coverage nationwide and low risks of vaccine-derived infections outbreaks in future.”