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Published:March 16th, 2006 14:09 EST
BANGLADESH STARTS MASS ANTI-POLIO DRIVE

BANGLADESH STARTS MASS ANTI-POLIO DRIVE

By Leon (Producer) Leon

The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, said the immunization campaign will begin immediately with hundreds of thousand of people mobilized around the country to prepare for three National Immunization Days on 16 April, 13 May and 11 June.

UNICEF said that a nine-year-old girl became paralyzed by the poliovirus in January. Genetic sequencing of the virus by the Global Specialized Polio Laboratory in Mumbai India, which tests all polio samples from Bangladesh, showed that the virus is closely related to viruses from western Uttar Pradesh in India.

India is one of only four countries in the world that remain endemic to the disease, along with Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“After a five-year absence it is regrettable that Bangladesh now has polio again but UNICEF, WHO (World Health Organization) and Rotary are working with the Government to support them in all their efforts to stamp out polio and again make it a polio-free country,” said UNICEF Country Representative, Louis-Georges Arsenault.

The Rotary Foundation has already approved a $150,000 Rapid Response Grant to support the first National Immunization Days since 2004.

The outbreak may continue to spread in the immediate area of the first identified case and beyond, UNICEF warned. Circulation of the poliovirus could be occurring in other parts of Bangladesh; however this is unknown at the moment. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, the Government of Bangladesh decided to immunize the entire population of children under five years of age.

“The Government of Bangladesh through the Ministry of Health has engaged in a timely and appropriate response which is in line with WHO recommendations for polio eradication. The Government’s excellent surveillance system and quick action means Bangladesh is on the right track to limit the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Duangvadee Sungkhobol, WHO Representative to Bangladesh.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious disease caused by the polio virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or even death within hours. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, in water or food that has been contaminated with faecal material from an infected person. The virus multiplies in the intestine and is then excreted by the infected person in faeces, which in turn can pass the virus on to others.

Source: The UN