First polio immunizations of the year in southern Sudan

Juba, southern Sudan, 22 February – The first round of the 2011 Polio National Immunization Days in Southern Sudan begins this week and is expected to reach an estimated 3.1 million children. Thousands of vaccination teams will spread across Southern Sudan – a region the size of Eastern Europe – and administer two drops of the polio vaccine to all children under the age of five.

Norah Abdelnabi, 24, couldn’t hide her joy when her two-year-old son, Steven Kulang received the ‘two drop’ vaccine for the first time.

Kulang was born at home in the slums of Khartoum city in Northern Sudan where his family had lived after being displaced by the war in the south which ended in 2005. Two months after he was born, his parents decided to return to the South.

“I have always been afraid that my son could be attacked by polio because he was not vaccinated but today my fear is relieved. I have seen people crippled for life by polio,” said an emotional Ms. Abdelnabi.

More than 180,000 Southern Sudanese are streaming back from the north of the country following a recent referendum which is expected to split Sudan and lead to the formation of a southern independent country this July when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 ending two decades of a North-South war comes to an end.

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