Bangladesh starts campaign to vaccinate 25 million children against polio
Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Some 700,000 Bangladeshi health workers and volunteers started vaccinating about 25 million children under age five on Saturday as part of the country's efforts to eliminate polio after the disease re-emerged last year, the Health Ministry said.
Many makeshift vaccination camps were set up at bus and train stations in the capital, Dhaka, and elsewhere to provide children with two drops of liquid vaccine, the ministry said in a statement.
Volunteers waited in one camp near Dhaka University, where about 500 children assembled Saturday morning to take part in a painting competition.
"I'll take my nephew to the camp for the vaccine after the competition ends," said Sabina Chowdhury, who accompanied her nephew to the painting competition.
Polio re-emerged in the impoverished South Asian country in 2006 after a nearly six-year absence, prompting the government, with the help of the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization, to launch a new campaign against the virus.
The polio virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. It invades the nervous system and can cause permanent paralysis within hours. It can be fatal in some cases.
UNICEF and the health ministry had earlier said that previous drives this year were successful despite the fact that many villagers and illiterate people still believe that such paralysis occurs because of evil spirits.
WHO recently reported new cases of polio in neighboring Myanmar and India, with which Bangladesh shares long borders.
In recent months, the government conducted special vaccination drives in many villages and towns near the two countries.
About 1,880 people were sickened by polio worldwide in 2005, down from more than 350,000 before 1988, when WHO launched a global anti-polio campaign. In 2006, worldwide cases fell to 1,526, the statement said.
The latest drive against polio was being carried out with the help of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative _ a partnership of UNICEF, Rotary International, WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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