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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Polio vaccine for all

Polio vaccine for all

T HE national polio vaccination campaign on Feb 11 is believed to have reached

nearly all of the target 1.7 million children.

"It's fantastic," said Dr Ly Nareth, the Ministry of Health's national polio

eradication manager.

The campaign was held in all districts of Cambodia, except those in Khmer

Rouge-occupied areas.

With rectums from five more provinces to be counted, almost 1.6 million

children are known to have been vaccinated, 96 percent of the total hoped


According to ministry draft report, the lowest immunization rates of children

registered in some provinces were about 85 per cent.

Other provinces topped 130 per cent of the figure expected-representing the

large number of unregistered children who were taken to be immunized.

However, the campaign did encounter some difficulties, particularly a lack of

transport for equipment and some of the 40,000 volunteers who administered the

oral vaccine drops.

In Banteay Meanchey, for example, volunteers had to hire motorcycle taxis to

get to some areas.

No security problems were reported for the volunteers in the areas they went

into. One worker said they had not been concerned about KR guerrillas but were

worried about landmines laid on roads.

In Prey Veng, near the Vietnamese border, about 70 per cent of children in

Vietnamese families in one commune did not come for the vaccine.

Nareth believed this was because their families could not understand

publicity information on the campaign written in Khmer, or had difficulty in

being told of it.

She hoped that a second national vaccination day on Mar 11 would be better,

thanks to the lessons learnt from the first one.

"We will push hard the work in the provinces where they had the most


Meanwhile, a pilot program to give vitamin A capsules to a small

number of children will be included in the Mar 11 project.

Some 15,000 capsules are planned to be distributed in total to children aged

under five in one commune of each district in Kompong Speu province.

Nareth said a nationwide vitamin A campaign might be held to improve the

health of children, particularly their eyesight, if the trial was




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