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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Gambia to vaccinate at least 400,000 children against polio

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Briefing journalists on the programme Saturday at the Central Medical Stores in Kotu, Communication Officer Saharu Kanteh said: “In a move to consolidate the gains and to further reduce the threat of importation of the wild polio virus from other countries where it is still in circulation, The Gambia will be joining several other countries from the West and Central African region to organise another round of synchronised national immunisation days. Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of days.  The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.  Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.  One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis usually in the legs. Among those paralysed, 5 percent to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilised.The World Health Organisation declared The Gambia Polio free in June 2004. This was made possible with the active involvement and commitment of the Government of the Gambia, the United Nations Agencies, NGOs and other development partners as well as the communities.

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“There is no cure for polio but it can easily be prevented through vaccination. Polio vaccine is safe and free of charge and is easily administered in droplets through the mouth. National immunisation days are special days set aside to immunise all children from 0-5years, in the Gambia against polio. We have to kick polio out of The Gambia so that the millions of dalasi the government and partners spend on polio vaccination can be spent on something else for national developmentHe announced plans to reach a target of 95 percent and above of children under the age of five years during the campaign saying it targets ‘Children: 0-5 yrs of age and estimated population of 416,740 will be vaccinated. As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.”

Muhammed Saho, deputy director of health education, promotion and communication reminded journalists of the role they can play in the vaccination campaign while urging them to help in the sensitisation effort.

Fatou Touray, the president of Health Journalists Association of The Gambia assured the ministry that journalists will do their part by reporting on the vaccination campaign to inform the public.

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