2nd March 2017, DHMT Hall Makeni, Bombali District

Cross section of community members at the meeting.

Sierra Leone for over 8 years have not reported any new case of polio in under 5 children. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has started using the Inactive Polio Vaccine (IPV) introduced by WHO to eradicate polio infection globally.

The new vaccine would  be giving to children at 14 weeks after birth at a health centre said Abdulai Conteh District Immunization Officer Bombali District.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Poliomyelitis (Polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affect young children. The virus is transmitted by ‘person’ to ‘person’ spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (contaminated water or food) and multiples in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.  Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

The Scaling Up Nutrition and Immunization Civil Society Platform (SUNI- CSP) has completed  a nationwide community engagement targeted  suckling mothers, religious leaders, market women, youth groups, media, traditional healers, village development committee members and other key district health stakeholders with funds from GAVI CSO Constituency Project  on importance of new vaccaine to the health of under 5 children.

 Cross section of suckling mothers at the meeting


Cross section of suckling mothers at the meeting in Bombali district 

It was disclosed to participants that the new vaccine would be giving to children through injection in their right limb to prevent polio.

“When children are being given the IPV injection, they sometimes get fever, but that would only last for a day. If the fever continues, take the child to the health center to be treated to stop the fever” the district immunization officer (2) told participants at the DHMT hall Bombali district.

The new polio vaccine targets the virus through the blood to get raid of it. The current one the ministry has been using is a drop in the child’s month which is still part of the immunization package known as Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).

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Abdul Conteh District Immunization Officer

Sierra Leone needs to ensure that 95 per cent of under 5 children get IPV dose by the end of 2018 in order for the country to be declared by WHO as polio free country.

To make this happen, SUNI-CSP in all the 14 districts across the country have mobilized communities to disseminate the new pattern of immunization dose for under five children.

“Thank you for educating us on the new polio vaccine, by the Grace of God this new method is the final method to drive polio away from our children” says Esheka Kalokoh, Regional Chairman for Traditional Healers one of the participants at the workshop.  

The engagements in the districts have empowered participants with the right knowledge to plan on best way for full coverage of immunization uptake within their communities and how best they can strengthen their role  as stakeholders in immunization provision and supervision.  

The meeting has further created the platform for communities to understand IPV and how it would be giving to children and what to do if there is any post vaccination health complication.

It can be recalled that in 2013 WHO introduced the Inactive Polio Vaccine (IPV) as a much more rapid response to Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in order eradicate polio in the world.

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 As part of the End Game Plan and recommended by WHO all 126 countries which at the start of 2013 committed to introduce 1 dose of IPV into routine immunization schedule as part pf preparation for the global withdrawal of the type 2 component of OPV in “the switch” from trivalent to bivalent OPV in April 2016. Other countries have started using IPV, but in Sierra Leone, the vaccine was introduced this year.

Radio discussions were held in all the districts in order to create more awareness to members of the on the IPV.

members of teh high table

SUNI-CSP was established by FOCUS 1000. It has been playing a vital role in mobilizing different Civil Society partners, community based organization to reach communities with key messages on nutrition and immunization as part of their support to government to reduce malnutrition and increase immunization coverage in the country. The platform works with the Expanded Immunization Unit at District Health Management Team offices across the country and district councils on the GAVI Civil Society Platform health system strengthening project.