2 August 2012

South Sudan: 'South Sudan Has Remained Polio Free', Health Minister

press release

Juba — The national Ministry of Health in the government of the Republic South Sudan has refuted recent media reports of polio outbreak in the county.

The minister for Health Dr. Micheal Milly Hussein on Tuesday 31st July while addressing the press in the ministry's headquarters in Juba refuted media reports of polio outbreak as not true and assured the general public that the country has remained polio-free for more than three years since the last case was reported.

"The Ministry of Health would like to re-assure the people of South Sudan and the entire polio eradication partnership in the country and the region alike that the recent media reports of polio outbreak in the South Sudan are false. The Ministry of Health would like to affirm that the Republic of South Sudan has remained polio free for more than three years", Dr. Hussein reiterated.

South Sudan's last polio case was reported on 27th June 2009 from Aweil North County of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

Dr. Hussein said the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in the Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners like World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), USAID, among others were able to implement all the recommendations of the Horn of Africa Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for sustaining a polio free South Sudan.

He added that between 2010 and 2012, the country was able to reach a total of 3.3 million children under 5years under its four-round immunisation campaign of 2010 and 2011 against polio.

He further stressed that while implementing the recommendations of TAG, South Sudan was able to register an increase in coverage for the third oral polio vaccine (OPV-3 from 63 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2012 on children between the age of 0-12 months in eight states except Eastern Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.

Dr. Hussein reiterated the commitment of the government in maintaining a polio free South Sudan. "In order to sustain high population immunity for polio, we have instituted a four round National Immunization Days (NIDS) supplemental program for years 2012-2016", he said.

The ministry has also warned of wrong administration of injections in children as being the cause of paralysis in some children as many would blame it on polio. "The Ministry of Health confirms that there remains a high occurrence of paralysis in children caused by wrongly administered injections, severe dehydration, ascending neuritis (Guillain Bare Symdrome) and other causes but not polio", he explained.

The health minister noted that since January 2012, 163 paralyzed children have been identified and none of the cases has been as a result of polio.

Poliomyelitis is a viral disease that affects nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis of limbs and is caused by poliovirus that spreads by direct person-to-person contact with an infected person. The virus enters through the mouth and nose, multiplies in the throat and intestinal tract, and then is absorbed and spread through the blood and lymph system.

Dr. Micheal Milly Hussein assured of the ministry readiness with support from the Global Polio Eradication partnerships in sustaining the country's hard- earned polio free status.

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