October 14th, 2014 – The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO launched the National Polio Immunization Campaign at a press conference held today at the Lebanese Order of Physicians. The event was headed by the Minister of Public Health Wael Abou Faour and was attended by the Ministers of Interior, Education, Information, the Lebanese Order of Physicians, the National Certification Committee (NCC) and the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Committee along with members of the press. Further attendees included the Rotary as well as a number of NGO partner representatives who have been supporting the initiatives in the months leading to this campaign.
The campaign stands as a crucial national response to the outbreak of Polio in the region, and aims to reach over 550,000 children under five in Lebanon regardless of nationality in order to keep Lebanon Polio free.
“We partner once again with UNICEF and WHO to ensure Lebanon’s polio free status is maintained and to protect our children from this dangerous and often deadly disease.” Said Mr. Wael Bou Faour Minister of Health. “Together with our partners, we are sparing no effort to ensure vaccination coverage of all children under the age of five in all areas including the most remote areas, and we pledge to continue our hard work and dedication to stop the reintroduction of the polio virus in Lebanon”.
The national immunization campaign will be in two rounds. The first round will take place between 15 and 21 October and will be followed by another round between 15 and 21 November. All children under five years old must participate in both rounds.
“There is a real concern that the reappearance of the virus in the Middle East and the high levels of displacement might lead to the spread of the outbreak beyond Syria and Iraq.” Said Ms. Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. “This is why we continue to strive to reach every child and every parent through the help and the participation of physicians and health workers both in the private and public health sector, as well as through our NGO partners, with the clear aim to ensure that every single child under-five in Lebanon, regardless of background and nationality is protected”.
With generous support from the European Union through the project Conflict reduction through improving health care services for the vulnerable population in Lebanon (20 M EURO in total), implemented by UNHCR, 1.2 million doses of polio vaccine were provided to the Ministry of Public Health to ensure that children under five will receive the vaccine free regardless of nationality and where they are receiving health care. The US Department of State has also generously contributed to UNCEF’s efforts to raise awareness on the importance of vaccinating children, mobilizing local communities, and reaching refugee children under five in the hundreds of informal settlements across Lebanon.
“We cannot allow for a single case of polio in Lebanon. That would be an utterly preventable tragedy. This is why the outbreak in the region has brought us all together to mobilize all that is possible to immunize all children under the age of five in Lebanon.” said acting WHO Representative in Lebanon, Dr. Gabriele Riedner. “We will continue supporting the Ministry of Public Health and physicians in the public and private sector to ensure the campaign is a success and Lebanon remains free of polio.”
To expand the outreach of the core message to a wider target audience, the campaign was endorsed by Nancy Ajram to incite all parents to get their children vaccinated. The campaign will also be promoted through educational leaflets and various media outlets including links on all leading Lebanese online portals and news sites.
For more information, please contact:
Ministry of Public Health
Ms. Randa Hamadeh
National EPI Manager
T: +961 3 538 878
Soha Boustani, Salam Abdulmunem
T: +961 3 236 167 T : +961 7 996 605
E: email@example.com E : firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Ramzieh Sabbah
T : +961 70015910
E : email@example.com
Blanche Baz / Tala Kreidiyeh
T: +961 1 486065