Programme Manager at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Dennis Marke, says Sierra Leone risk a polio importation, and that many children could be affected if nothing was done about the risk. He was speaking at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation conference hall at Youyi building in Freetown at the start of a polio inoculation exercise.

He said the ministry, with support from UN agencies, will embark on the reduction in morbidity and mortality of women and children through increased coverage of various life-saving interventions, adding that the exercise was the second of third rounds of a campaign planned for 2015 as part of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) revitalization plans.

He said the last measles campaign in 2012 reached 91 percent of children of all ages, noting that since then many children have not been vaccinated through routine services. “Measles outbreak mostly among children under the age of five has been reported in Freetown and several districts have recent cases. Without measles campaign, this outbreak will spread to become a large nationwide measles outbreak that likely will cause death and disability in many children,” he said.

Dr. Marke further maintained that polio treatment was important and that the last national immunization was conducted in 2013, adding that polio infection was mostly invisible because only 0.5 percent of children infected with polio develop paralysis.

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