Zimbabwe: UN-backed drive aims to vaccinate 2 million children against polio

7 June 2007 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are working to vaccinate 2 million children against polio in Zimbabwe, where most families are suffering from deteriorating economic conditions.

The campaign, which was launched on Monday, is “on track to meet its bold targets and is vital for child survival amid the challenges in Zimbabwe today,” said UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Fest Kavishe. Children will also receive Vitamin A supplements.

UNICEF said in a news release that families in Zimbabwe “are under ever-greater pressure from record high inflation, unemployment and orphan numbers, and severe economic stresses.” The country had been declared polio free in 1999 following a massive effort, but Dr. Kavishe warns that now, “the threat of polio remains very real, with recent cases in Botswana and Namibia.”

The agency's Head of Health in Zimbabwe, Dr. Colleta Kibassa, said nationwide immunization campaigns are the single most important support towards reducing child illnesses and deaths in Zimbabwe, but cautioned that “past successes have to be maintained and built upon. Our aim must remain to reach all of Zimbabwe's children.”

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