Safe and effective oral vaccines are the key to protecting children from polio – a crippling disease.Polio is a highly infectious viral disease. The virus attacks the spinal cord and brain, and can lead to lifelong paralysis overnight. Some children may even die from the disease.
A young girl shows her marked finger after receiving two drops of Oral Polio Vaccine during the second round of National Immunization Days in Afghanistan in 2012.
There is no cure for polio, but children can be fully protected against it with three doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV). In 2011, UNICEF procured more than 1.6 billion doses of OPV with a value of US$185 million, for use in 76 countries.
An Afghan infant receives two drops of Oral Polio Vaccine. 7.8 million children were targeted with oral polio vaccination through four National Immunization Days in 2011.
We are close to fully eradicating this debilitating disease. Since the inception of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is spearheaded by UNICEF and three partner organisations, cases of paralytic polio have decreased by over 99%, from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988, to 650 confirmed cases in 2011. Still, cases of polio continue to crop up in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Chad. In recent years, outbreaks have occurred in China and West Africa as well.
Funding shortages have forced the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to cancel or scale-back critical vaccination activities in 24 high-risk countries. Support from all parties is necessary to step up efforts and successfully eradicate this disease.
Let’s create a polio-free world, we can do it.
Facebook: UNICEF Malaysia
4-year-old Mohammad Shahadat was infected with polio when he was 2. He has since mostly recovered but his right leg is permanently damaged. He still needs to be vaccinated against polio to prevent new infections.
As the world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF is uniquely suited to procure sufficient quantities of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to ensure adequate supplies and competitive prices for national campaigns.
Children watch workers unload a shipment of insulated containers, filled with polio vaccines, from a cargo plane, at the Aweil Airport, in South Sudan.
In a remote mountain village in Afghanistan, workers transport an insulated carrier filled with polio vaccines, using a donkey.
A child receives the oral polio vaccine at a clinic operated by the Fondation pour le DÈveloppement de la Famille HaÔtienne (Foundation for the Development of Haitian Families), a UNICEF partner, in CanapÈ Vert, a neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, the capital.