The government of Equatorial Guinea launched the first phase of a campaign to immunize the nation’s children against polio last week. The government has been working closely with World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, United Nations (UN), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others to implement this proactive campaign.
Leo Heileman, UN Resident Coordinator, has stressed the importance of the campaign and noted that all UN agencies are supporting it. “The WHO and UNICEF have mobilized technical support in order to have experienced consultants to accompany the national teams, and execute the planned activities to carry out quality vaccination campaigns,” he said.
“Polio is a highly contagious disease that mostly affects children under five years old but also adults with a low immunity produced by the vaccine or a previous exposure to the disease,” said Diosdado Vicente Nsue Milang, Minister of Health and Social Welfare. “It can cause total or partial paralysis; thus far, the vaccine is the only effective preventive tool and the tool has achieved its eradication in Western countries.”
Equatorial Guinea has not recorded any cases of wild poliovirus since 1999, Nsue Milang said. In a strong plea for citizens to vaccinate their children, he said, “Poliomyelitis cannot be cured but can be prevented by a vaccine that is easily administered. Its eradication requires that all children under fifteen years old be vaccinated to prevent any further outbreaks.”
The government of Equatorial Guinea launched information campaigns to educate citizens about the need to take preventive measures against polio prior to the launch of the first phase, following a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO).
During the informational campaigns and launch ceremony of the first phase, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo stressed the importance of the vaccine and encouraged all parents to vaccinate their children under fifteen years old. Government officials, delegates, chairpersons of village councils and neighborhood communities were at the ceremony aimed at sharing this message with all parents, in order to complete the eradication of the disease in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
A second phase will take place from May 23 to 26 and a third from June 10 to 13, sponsored by the government.