Monday, January 10, 2011

UN calls for ceasefire in the DRC to give polio vaccines to children

In December the United Nations called for a ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in order to vaccinate millions of children against polio.  There was an outbreak of polio in 2010 and a campaign was launched aiming to vaccinate 72 million children in 15 African countries.  It has been difficult for vaccinations to be delivered in the Eastern DRC due to the fighting between numerous rebel groups and government forces.  The UN proposed vaccination days with ceasefires so that children could safely be vaccinated for polio.  While this sounds like a nice idea much of the conflict in the Eastern DRC is inflicted with the intention of disrupting communities so it seems unlikely that the rebel groups would respect a public health initiative aimed at improving child health.  Hopefully these vaccination campaigns can be carried out effectively. 
5 years ago polio was thought to be eradicated in much of the world but 800 cases of suspected polio were reported in the last six months of 2010. 

Hannah Harrison

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