UN health agency launches new drive against polio along Burkina Faso-Niger border

30 July 2002

The United Nations health agency has started a polio immunization drive targeting hundreds of thousands of children in Niger and Burkina Faso after a youngster was reported to have contracted the debilitating disease in the area, a UN spokesman reported today.

The World Health Organization (WHO) decided to organize its "mop up" campaign after a family from Niger brought a sick child to the nearest clinic, which happened to be in Burkina Faso.

"As a result of this case, and as part of the standard procedure for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the mop up campaign was planned, targeting 294,000 children in Niger and 218,000 in Burkina Faso," spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.

Wild poliovirus cases are rare - just 483 cases worldwide were documented in 2001 - and mop up campaigns are an important part of the drive to eliminate polio, according to the spokesman.


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