African polio immunization plan begins

Sept. 13, 2005 at 12:40 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has started a series of immunization campaigns in parts of Africa to prevent the disease from returning.

The campaign -- supported by the U.N.'s World Health Organization, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF -- was organized after a polio case was confirmed in Somalia, a nation that had been polio-free since 2002, Xinhua, China's main government-run news agency, reported Tuesday.

The plan calls for immunization campaigns this month and next to reach more than 34 million children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The large-scale response is largely being funded by a $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other donors including the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission, Xinhua said.

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