In Ethiopia, Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign Reaches 13 Million Children

Somali Region, Ethiopia, 12 May, 2014 – Ethiopia kicked off a polio vaccination campaign on 3 October 2013, targeting 13 million children across the country following an emergency response that began in the Dollo Ado refugee camps in June 2013.

In July 2013, Ethiopia Reports First Wild Poliovirus Case Since 2008.

Ayan Yasin, a four-year-old girl, was one of the first confirmed polio cases in Ethiopia. Ayan lives with her father and mother, a typical pastoralist family, in their house, made of tin, wood and woven bed sheets in a remote secluded area three kilometers from Geladi Woreda in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. Living next to the Somalia border means that the family move frequently between Ethiopia and Somalia – making routine immunisation practices difficult.

When Ayan fell sick, her father took her to the nearest hospital in Somalia where he was told there was very little hope. After many visits to various health posts, Hergeisa Hospital finally confirmed she had Polio. “We call this illness the disease of the wind. We know that there is no cure for it, and that it can paralyse and even cause death. My daughter hasn’t died but it has disabled her forever,” says her father.

Polio vaccines arrive in Warder
Bukhari Shiekh Aden of UNICEF helps in moving polio vaccines of an airplane which just arrived in Warder district, Somali region of Ethiopia for a campaign as a response of a recent polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Sewunet

Close to 50,000 health workers and volunteers and 16,000 social mobilisers have been deployed all over the country as part of a campaign that includes remote and hard to access areas. With the support of the European Commission- Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), UNICEF has procured vaccines to support immunisation efforts particularly for children and the refugee population being hosted in the Somali Region. In total, 135,000 vials or 2.7 million doses of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) were procured to immunise 2.43 million children with a polio vaccine – a critical input to immunisation activities in the Somali Region and Polio high-risk areas. The support from ECHO has also helped to airlift the Polio vaccine to hard-to-reach zones of Afder, Gode and Dollo in the Somali Region.

Synchronised cross-border polio outbreak preparedness and response

Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs) were conducted in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti to accelerate progress towards ending Polio in the Horn of Africa. The synchronised SIAs were an outcome of the Horn of Africa Countries Cross-Border Polio Outbreak Preparedness and Response Meeting in Jigjiga, from 21 to 23 May 2014, where Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti agreed to strengthen cross-border collaboration to eradicate polio from the Horn of Africa.

To reinforce support and strengthen Polio eradication efforts in the Somali Region, a high-level delegation consisting of Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, Mr Abdufatah Mohammed Hassen, Vice President of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State and Head of the Somali Regional Health Bureau, Dr Pierre M’Pele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia, and Dr Willis Ogutu, Head of UNICEF programme in Somali Region, visited Warder in Dollo Zone, the epicentre of the wild polio virus outbreak in Ethiopia, on 14 June 2014. The delegation, together with the Warder Zonal Administration, launched the ninth round of Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs) in the outbreak zone and formally inaugurated the Zonal Polio Outbreak Command Post, which had been established in April 2014 to improve coordination of response activities.

Polio vaccination in the Somali region of Ethiopia, as a response of a recent polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa
Polio vaccination in the Somali region of Ethiopia, as a response of a recent polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Sustained interventions to ensure long-term success

While the campaigns to vaccinate children against Polio in the Somali Region have been going well, ensuring long-term success in eliminating the disease will require sustained interventions.

Abdufatah Mohammud Hassen believes the best solution is to immunise every child and ramp up routine immunisation activities in the region. “The campaigns are just to stop the emergency but the main thing that we are doing is to reach every child by strengthening the routine EPI and ensuring that the health facilities have the capacity to respond to the demands of the public”

With the help of developing partners like ECHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rotary International and the Crown Prince of Dubai, UNICEF together with the Ministry of Health is continuing its efforts so that young children like Ayan Yasin living in the region are protected from the disabling symptoms of the Polio disease.

Ethiopia takes action against rotavirus

In September, Ethiopia and UNICEF announced that the country had reduced its under-five mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2012 – the required reduction for meeting the target of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) on child survival.

“Ethiopia is becoming a development leader on the African continent, the success is driven by political commitment, advances in science and technology and improvements in health, nutrition and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas,” said Peter Salama, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia. Read more

Ethiopia Set to Save Children from Diarrhoea

This content originally appeared on newbusinessethiopia.com

Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu makes official launching statement of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction to Ethiopia“Diarrhoea takes the lives of more than 38,500 Ethiopian children under-five each year, rotavirus being responsible for close to two-thirds of the deaths,” said Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr Admasu Kesetebirhan. “Providing rotavirus vaccines to our children and integrating them with appropriate diarrhoeal disease control interventions will further support our efforts to reduce child mortality.”

Ethiopia has undertaken significant work to introduce the rotavirus vaccine nationally. It has significantly expanded its cold chain facilities nationwide and deployed health extension workers to provide immunisation services in each village with at least 5,000 people, in a country with 84 million people spread across 1.1 million square kilometres.

“Ethiopia is becoming a development leader on the African continent, the success is driven by political commitment, advances in science and technology and improvements in health, nutrition and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas,” said Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia. Read more

Rotary International guests from US and Canada visit UNICEF Ethiopia to support polio eradication efforts

By Shalini Rozario

Group photo: Rotary International guests from US and Canada visit UNICEF EthiopiaOn 12 November 2013, members of Rotary International’s Polio Advocacy Group paid a visit to UNICEF Ethiopia to meet with Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative, to discuss the status of the wild polio virus circulation within the Horn of Africa and to learn more about UNICEF activities and contribution.

UNICEF welcomed the visitors with much appreciation for their dedication and interest in immunization efforts. A presentation was given by Dr. Salama on the overview of UNICEF response alongside a short film on community engagement for polio immunization highlighting communication activities supported by polio partners including Rotary International and the National Polio Plus Committee. Following the presentation, the discussion included topics such as access challenges to reach remote communities; flexible funding for the evolving outbreak and how broader strategies could help to maximize large scale community participation and support to polio, routine immunization and child survival generally.

Community Engagement for Polio Immunization in Ethiopia

The Rotary Advocacy Group is part of a larger group of 45 Rotarians from the United States and Canada who are visiting Ethiopia this week to demonstrate their interest and support for the polio eradication efforts.

Globally, Rotary International has supported polio eradication efforts for the last 34 years and is one of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Partners alongside the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF.

See photos from the visit here. 

Ethiopia administers vaccine against rotavirus

Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu launches Rotavirus Vaccine introduction by giving the first drops to a child  at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaEthiopia has started administering a vaccine against a rotavirus which leads to severe and often fatal diarrhea in children under the age of five, according to the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Administration of the vaccine is expected to protect 2.8 million children born in Ethiopia. The country has one of the highest fatality rates from rotavirus with more than 38,500 children under the age of five dying every year because of diarrhea, of which two-third of death related to the virus.

“Ethiopia is becoming a development leader on the African continent, the success is driven by political commitment, advances in science and technology and improvements in health, nutrition and family planning services, particularly in the rural areas,” Peter Salama, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia stated. Read more

Nation introduces Rota Vaccine

The Ministry of Health (MoH) inaugurated a vaccine against rota virus which helps the nation to decrease under five mortality. Annually, 28,000 Ethiopian children under five die from diarrhoea caused by rota virus.

At the inaugural ceremony of the vaccine at Zewditu Referral Hospital yesterday, Health Minister Dr. Kesete-Birhan Admassu said that the scaling up of the immunization programme in the country has made significant contribution to achieve MDG-4 (reduction of child mortality) by 2/3, three years ahead of time. “Our collaborative effort of bringing more life-saving vaccines into routine immunization programme will continue to contribute immensely towards the saving of precious lives,” he added.

Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, speaks  On the Occasion of the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction in Ethiopia

UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia Patrizia Di Giovanni said that prevention, rather than treatment of infection through immunization is one of the safest and least expensive means to avoid unnecessary child death. Ethiopia has expanded the programme of immunization with the support of GABI and partners. The implementation of the vaccine has been rapidly creating opportunities for providing fullest benefit of vaccines, She added.

She said that Ethiopia recognizes diarrhoea caused by rota virus as a formidable public health problem. As rota virus infection is associated with the most severe types of diarrhea in infants and young children, today’s introduction of rota virus vaccine is expected to save children’s lives lost to one of the leading causes of child mortality in the country — diarrhoeal disease. Read more

Ethiopia launches Rotavirus vaccine

A smiling child after receiving the first Rotavirus Vaccine in Ethiopia
A smiling child after receiving the first Rotavirus Vaccine in Ethiopia

The Federal Ministry of Ethiopia launches Rotavirus Vaccine at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This momentum in increasing efforts to reduce child mortality is a showcase to the country’s commitment to improve children’s health and survival. Ethiopia has recently become one of the countries who have achieved the Millennium Development Goal four of reducing child mortality by two thirds (MDG4), three years in advance.  

The event was marked by the presence of Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu and representatives from A.A city Administration Health bureau, WHO, GAVI alliance, PATH, CHAI, and the media. “The introduction of Rota vaccine will help Ethiopia consolidate its gain in reducing Infant mortality and end preventable child deaths” said Dr. Kesetebirhan in his opening remark. He stressed on the importance of partnership on Ethiopia’s Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and acknowledged the support of UNICEF, GAVI Alliance, WHO, PATH, CHAI & others.

Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, speaks  On the Occasion of the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction in Ethiopia
Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, speaks On the Occasion of the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction in Ethiopia

Rotavirus, the most common cause of severe and fatal diarrhea in young children worldwide, takes the lives of more than 28,000 Ethiopian children under five each year. “Today, with this important new vaccine we have a golden opportunity to strengthen our efforts to advance innovative and appropriate approaches to reach the un-reached children; to further build the capacity of health workers, to expand cold chain capacity and to most importantly to renew our collective advocacy to mobilize communities to reap the benefits of routine immunization.” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia

Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu launches Rotavirus Vaccine introduction by giving the first drops to a child  at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu launches Rotavirus Vaccine introduction by giving the first drops to a child at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Before the end of the event Dr. Kesetebirhan was joined by the high level delegation of partners to vaccinate children in the hospital.

See pictures form the launch here.

Joint GAVI, Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO media release “Millions of Ethiopian Children to be Protected Each Year Against Leading Cause of Severe Diarrhoea – Ethiopia becomes the 17th country to introduce rotavirus vaccine with support of GAVI partners”

Patrizia Di Giovanni (UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia) speech during the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction