Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)–  Bangladesh will immunise around 24 million children aged 0-59 months on January 7 for bolstering its polio-free status by providing two drops of polio vaccines during the 20th National Immunization Day (NID).

The second round will be observed on 11 February.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally inaugurate the 20th NID at her official residence in the capital Dhaka, a press statement said on Thursday.

Health workers and volunteers will administer oral polio vaccines to 24 million children aged 0-59 months and vitamin A capsules to 20 million children aged 6-59 months at 140,000 sites located in health facilities and health centres, schools, as well as mobile sites (bus, boat and train stations) throughout the country.

A four-day Child-to-Child Search will also be conducted by mobile teams in order to ensure that no child is left out.

For the first time this year, the vitamin A capsule will be provided to children aged 6-11 months nationwide in addition to vitamin A supplementation to children aged 12-59 months to combat other childhood illnesses.  

“The fact that the national coverage of NID is generally near about 95 per cent speaks for its success. But we need to do more to cover the remaining children living in the hard-to-reach areas,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Pascal Villeneuve.

He added that the Government of Bangladesh has also integrated the National Vitamin A-Plus Campaign with the NID to cover children aged between 6 months to 59 months.  

For reaching every child, he stressed on the need for reviewing and updating the micro-plan, effectively utilizing additional support for hard-to-reach and high-risk areas and stepping up supervision in the hard-to-reach areas.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh Dr. Arun Bhadra Thapa said: “The Government of Bangladesh has successfully maintained polio free status since 2006 after the last case of imported poliomyelitis. This achievement is a result of high political commitment of the government and strong partnership between government, civil society and development partners.”

The Government of Bangladesh (GOB) with support from UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta) mounted a model response to immunize all under-5 children across the country when the first case of imported polio was detected in March 2006 after the country had been polio-free for five years.

As the NID re-started, the Bangladesh government decided to integrate National Vitamin A Plus Campaign (NVAC) with polio immunization.

With support from the Rotary International, Micronutrient Initiative, UNICEF and WHO, all eligible children will be able to boost their immunity with the intake of a Vitamin A capsule during the NID.

The National Immunization Day (NID) marks the end point of several months of careful planning. It would not have been possible without the commitment of the Government of Bangladesh, particularly the EPI and Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Thousands of field managers, frontline workers and volunteers have joined forces to ensure that no child is missed out.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) works with governments around the world to reduce the incidence of polio and is spearheaded by the WHO, Rotary International, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta and UNICEF.

BBN/SSR/AD-05Jan12-4:57 pm (BST)