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Global Health Watch: WHO to vaccinate 72 million African children against polio this week

October 26, 2010|By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
  • Children in Afghanistan were vaccinated against polio earlier this month. WHO will begin a vigorous campaign by giving children polio immunizations in 15 African nations this week.
Children in Afghanistan were vaccinated against polio earlier this month.… (Jalil Rezayee / EPA )

JOHANNESBURG — The World Health Organization aims to vaccinate 72 million African children younger than 5 this week, through door-to-door visits, in a new drive to eradicate polio.

The disease had been all but eradicated in West Africa — except in Nigeria, which never managed to eliminate the disease because of opposition to vaccinating.

The disease spread again from Nigeria to 24 African countries in recent years, with 58 cases in Liberia, Mali, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last six months.

Nearly 300,000 vaccinators will go door to door in 15 African countries, mainly in West Africa but extending to Chad and Sudan, according to WHO spokesman Rod Curtis. Nigeria vaccinated 29 million children last week and has cut the number of polio cases by 98% in the last year.

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