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Friday, May 20, 2011

UNICEF leads community forums against polio in eastern Chad

A press release from UNICEF with regards to Polio in Chad :

" Focus on remote and vulnerable communities aims at stopping the spread of poliovirus in the country

In an effort to eradicate polio in Chad, UNICEF is stepping up its social mobilization efforts at the grassroots levels by mobilizing local authorities, religious leaders, women and youth groups, as well as other influential personalities, through community forums in the most remote and inaccessible regions of the country.

With 52 cases of poliovirus certified in the country over the past six months, twice the total registered in 2010, Chad has been identified as a public health emergency at the international level in the fight for the global eradication of polio. The country has also declared the polio situation a “national emergency”.

“In hard-to-reach areas, we need to mobilize all community forces and decision-makers to reach as many unimmunized children as possible and ensure more equitable coverage”, explained UNICEF Country Representative, Dr Marzio Babille.

The community forums, held in four Eastern Chad health districts where cases of polio have recently been certified, provided the opportunity to refute previous immunization coverage figures that were reportedly well above 100 per cent, as many identified villages have never received immunization services, including polio vaccine.

Participants also discussed common misconceptions on polio vaccination and made the commitment to act as ambassadors in their communities.. In Eastern Chad, many rumors about vaccination remain entrenched among the local population, such as that it reduces the fertility of girls and boys, that it contains swine oil, which is unacceptable for a widely Muslim population, or that it makes the children stubborn."

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