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DRC To Launch New Polio Vaccination Campaign

IRIN examines polio eradication efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), highlighting a new vaccination campaign scheduled to begin this month. “At one stage, after no cases were recorded between 2001 and 2005, polio was considered eradicated in DRC,” the news service writes. Today, however, “DRC is considered an ‘importation country,’ meaning it experiences outbreaks of the disease because of low levels of immunity among the population,” the news service adds and provides a brief history of polio vaccination campaigns in the country, the first of which began in the mid-1980s. According to IRIN, “[p]olio eradication campaigns [in the country] face myriad obstacles, including large-scale population displacements caused by DRC’s persistent conflicts, poor access to isolated communities, religious objections to the vaccine and weak infrastructure.”

“In 2008, after an ‘epidemiological situation evolved in the central African region,’ resulting in dozens of new infections in the country, the government and donors announced a polio vaccination program targeting seven million children,” IRIN writes, adding, “This August, during the country’s National Immunization Day (NID), officials will hold a second round of vaccinations targeting” more than 2.5 million children under five years old (8/13). Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi at a press conference on Tuesday appealed to parents to ensure their children are immunized and to facilitate the work of the health workers who will be moving from door-to-door,” Xinhua/Global Times reports. “He noted that the vaccination campaign to be carried out in August 2013 is meant to consolidate the achievements of the first phase of the immunization campaign that was organized between July 11 and 13, 2013,” the news agency adds (8/14).