Nearly 900,000 Children Vaccinated Against Polio in Liberia

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Liberian health authorities have reported that the recent polio, measles and deworming campaign across the country was a success.

According to Adolphus Clarke, an estimated 900,000 children were vaccinated against polio. Clark is the Deputy Program Manager for the Integrated Measles and Polio Campaign at the Ministry of Health.

He said the vaccination campaign occurred from May 8 to 14 and targeted children under the age of five.

The campaign was much needed because, during the Ebola outbreak, many children were not immunized. The situation created a cause for concern as health authorities feared another health disaster.

Even during the period of the campaign, at least seven of the 562 suspected measles patients died. The deaths came from Margibi, with three deaths; Montserrado with two; and Grand Bassa and Nimba, which both recorded one death.

Clark said, “The Ministry of Health was able to reach 588,677 children with the measles vaccine, which also represents 98% of the period covered during the immunization campaign.”

He also said the Ministry of Health was able to deworm 509,813 children; which represents 98% of the target. The deworming campaign aimed to treat 522,732 children between 12-month-old to five-year-old.

According to the World Health Organization, deworming is an effective treatment against infections caused by a group of parasites known as helminths, generally referred to as worms. Common infections caused by these parasites include internal bleeding, diarrhea, and poor absorption of nutrients, which can negatively impact the growth and development of children.

Clarke said there was initially resistance to the campaign in some communities. However, the Liberian National Red Cross Society and local leaders helped them resolve those issues. He commended casino online the Red Cross for supporting the measles campaign.

Fayiah Tamba, Secretary General of the Red Cross, said his organization trained 3,130 volunteers. They provided information on the immunization campaign and also addressed concerns relating to misinformation.

There had been rumors that the current immunization drive was a cover to test the Ebola vaccine on Liberians, leading the Ministry of Health to refute those suggestions.


Fayiah Tamba, Secretary General of the Liberia National Red Cross. Photo: Zeze Ballah

In addition to debunking rumors, the Red Cross volunteers also supported health teams in RiverCess, Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi by transporting the measles vaccines to remote towns and villages.

Tamba said the organization also transported mothers with children under the age of 5 to the nearest vaccination centers. They also encouraged the mothers of unimmunized children to take their children to the nearest vaccination center.

Over 2000 children could not be taken for vaccination due to the farming obligations of their parents or guardians. However, Tamba said they were identified by the Red Cross active case searches and later transported to immunization centers.

Although the campaign is now completed, Clarke said, “the Ministry of Health will continue to provide routine immunization services in 517 health centers across the country.”

Featured image courtesy of  Julien Harneis

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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