By wafa A.Alkhazzan
The World Health Organization confirmed that they have not recorded any cases of polio in Yemen since February 2006, but pointed out that vaccines have not been taken for several reasons, including security and religious ones. About 5% of the three million Middle Easterners that have not been vaccinated are Yemeni children.
Deputy Director of the World Health Organization office in Yemen, Mohammed Osama Mere, met with a number of local media representatives at the United Nations Information Office. He confirmed the statistic, and noted that twenty thousand teams of forty thousand workers are working to meet goals for immunization. Currently, there are three campaigns targeting four million children, and they have yet to be completed in Al-Jouf, Sa’ada, and Abyan.
The report added that polio risks returning to Yemen after being declared free of the virus by the World Health Organization in 2009, especially as refugees are not met with adequate medical services. Under-immunized children are especially risky, since they are a weak point for the virus to potentially return.
Today, the national campaign against polio is being implemented by the Ministry of Public Health and Population in conjunction with the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund. It targets all children under five during the period of 7 to 9 April, which is estimated at 4.88 million in all governorates.
Health Minister Dr. Ahmed Qasem al-Ansi noted that UNICEF has already provided nearly six million doses of vaccine for the campaign. He stressed that it is very important that the campaign proceeds as planned.