The Ministry of Health with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization and other partners has concluded a four- day polio immunization campaign from February 24th – 27th targeting a total of 945,464 children 0 – 59 months. The post- campaign independent monitoring data indicates that Liberia has achieved over 95 percent national coverage in each of the last five consecutive polio campaigns.
Dr. Francis Kateh, Deputy Minister of Health/Chief Medical Officer for the Ministry of Health of Liberia, affirmed that for Liberia to sustain the polio free status it’s important that all children under five years of age irrespective of their immunization status are vaccinated during the polio campaigns in line with the global initiative to boost their immunity.
To increase coverage, the Ministry of Health with support from partners instituted strategic interventions to address the gaps identified during previous polio campaigns. Some of the key interventions undertaken that contributed to resolving residual cases of resistance and improving coverage include: intensification of social mobilization and targeted community engagement to address perceived barriers, active involvement of leaders and elders in communities with a history of resistance as part of the mobilization or vaccination teams, and the recruitment of mobilisers to carry out house-to-house mobilization activities in order to reach all eligible children in the 15 counties.
Dr. Alex Gasasira, WHO Representative for Liberia, congratulated the Ministry of Health for their efforts to sustain the country’s polio free status that was first attained in 2010. This he said has been made possible through the hard work and commitment by partners, health workers, mobilizers, as well as the parents who have embraced the polio immunization campaigns with such enthusiasm. Dr. Gasasira appealed to parents to continue to take their children for routine immunization to ensure that they are fully immunized before they reach one year of age, and to avail them of the opportunity provided by the special immunization campaigns to remain protected and healthy.
Liberia’s Ministry of Health plans to conduct two additional rounds of polio campaigns this year that will be integrated with other high-impact interventions such as Vitamin A supplementation and deworming with Mebendazole. These additional interventions enhance growth and development of the children, prevent against severe cases measles infections, blindness, anemia and malnutrition from worm infestation.
Key partners supporting the polio campaigns include United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other international and national NGOs including Save the Children, International Medical Corps (IMC), International Rescue Committee, MTI, Partners in Health (PIH), PACS, Africare, PCI, and Americares.