News from the field - November 2004
Children who are malnourished are especially vulnerable to measles
Children immunized against measles and polio in Darfur
Immunization campaigns have continued to target children in the troubled region of Darfur in western Sudan in an effort to prevent outbreaks of measles and polio. In September, mass immunization campaigns against measles and polio were held in remote areas currently controlled by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). Meanwhile, the Sudan is currently participating in the largest-ever, synchronized cross-border polio campaign in history, involving 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and targeting 80 million children aged under five.
In the first round of a mass immunization campaign against measles in June, over 2.2 million children were targeted – many of them already malnourished and therefore especially vulnerable to measles. A second round of immunization was held in July in an effort to reach about 200000 children who missed the first round.
The campaign – led by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF in coordination with other national and international organizations – was also used as an opportunity to provide vitamin A supplements and to immunize at least 90% of children under five against polio. In May, a child was paralyzed by polio in the Darfur region – the first case of polio in the Sudan for three years. Since then, the spread of polio in the Darfur region and to Khartoum have highlighted the potential for rapid spread of polio in the Sudan, compromising the major progress which had been made toward polio eradication. The virus involved has been genetically linked to poliovirus endemic to northern Nigeria, where polio immunization was suspended late last year in Kano State following a local controversy about the safety of the polio vaccine used. Since then, wild poliovirus has spread from northern Nigeria into 12 previously polio-free countries in west and central Africa. Polio immunization resumed in Kano State in July.
In Darfur, the first round of a polio immunization campaign was held in late July. A second round in late August targeted 1.4 million children under five.
Immunization Forum November 2004 -