Five - day nationwide polio vaccination campaign to keep Iraq polio free

BAGHDAD, February 28th, 2016 – The 2016 first round of nationwide polio vaccination campaign has started.

Early this Sunday 28th, Ala, 23 years old is coming to vaccinate against polio her daughter, Lya Hersh, 6 months old. She knows that immunization is one of the most important preventive health actions in children’s lives as it provides protection against the most dangerous childhood diseases. In Iraq, the first polio campaign in 2016 started today February 28th and will continue until March 3rd. About 26,000 workers and 406 vaccinators will immunize nearly 6 million children across the entire country.

In May 2015, Iraq was removed from the list of polio infected countries, a landmark achieved by the Ministry of Health with the continued support of WHO, UNICEF and multiple partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The most important efforts for this achievement are to be attributed to frontline polio workers under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. They moved house to house to deliver oral polio vaccine to children despite the dire security situation. Ministry of Health plans to implement four Polio National Immunization Days - PNIDS in 2016 in order to keep Iraq polio free.

The present campaign takes place eight weeks before the globally synchronized withdrawal of type-2 component of oral polio vaccine as outlined in the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013 - 2018. In this context, Iraq will switch from tri-valent oral polio vaccine to bi-valent oral polio vaccine on 30th April 2016. In October 2015, Global Certification Commission has declared eradication of poliovirus type-2. Bi-valent vaccine is more effective, and since no type-2 wild poliovirus exits—the last case was detected in 1999—there is no need to immunize against that strain.
The Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF are closely collaborating on the current polio vaccination campaign to cover 5.8 million children below five years of age. A total of 26,000 workers are engaged by Ministry of Health and Departments of Health at national and subnational levels. The aim is to reach at least 95% vaccination coverage, verified by finger marking in the post campaign independent assessment by volunteers of Iraqi Red Crescent Society.
Community influencers, elders and members of civic society are urged to support polio vaccination teams to reach every single child and they will report to the nearest Primary Health Care Center in case the vaccination team does not reach any their home by 3rd March 2016.
“Iraq is a polio free country and WHO actively contributes to transition planning discussions, globally and at the country level, to help Iraq to be synchronized with the polio end game.” said acting WHO Representative Altaf Musani.
“Childhood vaccinations are one of the most effective health interventions available. The polio endgame strategy will not only ensure that children are free forever from this terrible disease, but also help strengthen systems to deliver routine immunization, especially to the most deprived and vulnerable children.” Added UNICEF Iraq Representative Peter Hawkins,

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Rosane Lopes, Communications Officer| World Health Organization, Iraq Country Office | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 7809 288 614
Ms. Ajyal Sultany, Communications Officer | World Health Organization, Iraq Country Office| This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 7510 101 469
Mr. Jeffrey Bates, Chief of Communications| UNICEF Iraq | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 780 196 4524
Mr. Karim Elkorany, Communications Specialist| UNICEF Iraq | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 780 925 8542
More Information about Polio
Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018
WHO – Polio 
Eradicating Polio – Unicef 

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