Egypt has vaccinated some 8.8 million children (approx. 52.9 percent of children in the country), including 6,730 foreign children, during the first day of a vaccination campaign against polio, Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed announced on Monday.
According to Zayed, the campaign to vaccinate children against polio, which is taking place from 28 February to 1 March, targets 16.7 million Egyptian and foreign children under the age of five across all governorates in the country.
Egypt, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, has obtained 38.2 million doses of the oral Sabin vaccine to help keep the country polio-free.
The four-day campaign, which started on Sunday, comes amid an outbreak of polio in several African countries, including South Sudan, Sudan, Liberia and Cameroon.
The vaccine will be administered by medical teams at more than 5,400 health centres nationwide as well as teams stationed at large squares, train and metro stations, around mosques and churches, in sporting clubs, markets, and at bus stops and via vehicles, Zayed noted.
As many as 90,000 medical personnel are taking part in the campaign.
The ministry has also prepared 2,000 ambulances and 800 other vehicles to reach remote areas in the country.
According to Alaa Eid, the head of the Preventive Medicine Department at the health ministry, a meeting is held every evening between supervisors and officials at the ministry and other concerned directorates in order to monitor the progress of the campaign.
Poliomyelitis (polio for short) usually infects children under the age of five and spreads through person-to-person contact. Its symptoms often turn from fever, vomiting and pain in the limbs to untreatable paralysis or can cause death in late stages.
Egypt was declared polio-free by the WHO in 2006.
According to UNICEF, Egypt, due to its vigorous vaccination campaigns, has managed to eradicate the life-threatening disease that had for centuries infected millions of children around the world.
The first vaccine against the disease was created in 1955.