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General News of Sunday, 19 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

A Must Win War!


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The nation had peremptorily announced the conquering of poliomyelitis in the country but events of the past few months indicate that the war is far from won.

At the end of last year, the government announced the discovery of four cases of poliomyelitis. This has prompted the launching of a wide-scale campaign against the scourge across the country.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Health in charge of the fight against Epidemics and Pandemics was in Bafia, Centre Region to launch the new campaign, expected to involve children of up to ten years in the West, North West, South West, Centre and Littoral Regions and in three health districts in the Adamawa Region as well as for children of up to five years in the Far North, South and East Regions. It is expected that during the campaign, the polio oral vaccine will be administered to all children.

The government is very concerned about the success of the present initiative. Little wonder it has been calling for a social mobilisation of all the stake-holders to ensure that there is a house-to-house contact to get everybody on board. This concern, also involving the participation of the mass media and other communication channels, is very much desired, given that previous campaigns had never really had the adhesion required for their maximum efficiency.

And the resurgence of poliomyelitis, long thought to have disappeared, was enough proof to call for this caution. The apathetic attitude of the targeted populations is difficult to explain for many reasons. The same campaigns carried out in the pre-independence period when itinerant health workers combed difficult-to-access villages to administer these same doses. They often found very cooperative people and the sole difficulties of the time were limited to insufficient supplies of vaccines and the remoteness of villages.

How does one explain that today with improved road and communication networks as well as the fact that these vaccines are administered for free, many people still refuse to take up the life-saving opportunities offered? Polio must not be allowed to remain in our country. The determination to exterminate it should be a matter for all. It is a war that must be won, not only by the health authorities but by every well-meaning citizen.

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