National Campaign against Polio starts today throughout the country - Approximately 52,000 children will be vaccinated

United Nations, Praia, March 24 2011 - Without recording any case of polio for more than ten years, Cape Verde launched today a national campaign of vaccination against Polio in a synchronized action with over 16 countries in the African sub-region, whose ceremony was chaired by the First Lady of Cape Verde, Ms. Adelcia Pires.

This campaign aims to help eradicate polio worldwide by 2012 and to consolidate the gains achieved so far in this area by Cape Verde. The target is to vaccinate all children under 5 years, an estimated 52.000 children. This campaign will run in two phases, the first dose to be administered from 25 to 28 March, and the second from 26 to 29 April.

At the launch ceremony, UNICEF Representative, Ms. Narjess Saidani, praised the work of the country and the gains achieved since independence, in the fight against infantile paralysis. For the UNICEF Representative, it is important to protect children's health for the future of the country and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. According Narjess Saidani, today the country assumes its Expanded Programme on Immunization, with the aim of achieving more than ninety percent of Cape Verdean children. Vaccines represent an indispensable protection against diseases and preventable deaths of children. Considerable efforts are being made also in Cape Verde, in education, birth registration and water and sanitation which are all directly related to survival and development of children.

For its turn, the WHO Representative, Dr. Andriamahefazafy Barrysson, acknowledged the commitment of Cape Verde in fight against polio and highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships to eradicate the disease, that currently persists only in four countries (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan). For Dr. Barrysson: "While there is an infected child, all others are at risk of contracting the disease", and that therefore, in spite of progress, we need to extend interventions to reach every needy person.

Addressing the session, the Director General of Health, Dr. Pedro Antonio Delgado, representing the Deputy Minister and of Health, stressed the need for the engagement of all citizens for the success of the campaign, as in previous years, as well as the government determination to find more partners and support. "Though it makes 10 years that Cape Verde has not recorded cases of this disease, it is important to continue to prevent recurrence and circulation of the virus", he emphasized.

Having chaired the ceremony, the First Lady of Cape Verde, Ms. Adelcia Pires, reaffirmed her commitment to this cause and assured feel identified with the slogan "Cape Verde Polio free, happy children at play". She reminded all that children represent 36% of the population in Cape Verde. "Vaccination is an act of love and responsibility with children, the future of our people", she concluded.

This campaign has the participation and support of various partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the private sector as CVTelecom, T+ and the Network 24 and civil society among others.

Poliomyelitis, also called Polio, is a disease caused by a virus, which is infectious and transmitted from an infected person to another, through dirty hands and water or food contaminated by feces with the virus. Children under 5 years, for failing hygiene habits, are at highest risk of contracting the disease.

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