PM instructs authorities to step-up fight against polio
Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong has instructed relevant sectors in Vientiane and provinces to intensify the fight against polio and boost the immunisation campaign for children across the country.
The move comes as the government wants to completely eradicate polio following the death of an 8-year old boy of Borikhamxay province in September from the virus.
The death of the boy gained international headlines and refocused the health issue for the government and whole region.
Although polio is under control, the PM issued an order last week, instructing authorities in all levels to ensure 100 percent of children are immunised as anticipated.
Doctors must immunise children at village level and other remote areas while encouraging families who work on farms to bring their children for immunisation.
The PM entrusted the education and sport sector to record children aged 15 years old and below and send this information to immunisation teams while campaign activities must be strengthened to ensure local people understand and take part in the activities.
District and provincial authorities needed to contribute to transporting vaccine to remote areas. Meanwhile the health sector needed to form teams of doctors to immunise children daily as well as report on their accomplishments in immunisation activities.
Polio is an infectious disease and is highly contagious, being transmitted from one person to another by the faecal-oral route. The virus destroys the nervous system and muscles, leading to acute flaccid paralysis, and may result in death.
Survivors suffer life-long disability and impairment such as lower limb paralysis, which is irreversible. There are three types of poliovirus (type 1, 2 and 3) which are passed to humans through water and food and mainly affect children below five years of age, but can also affect other age groups. Polio is absolutely preventable through immunisation with oral polio vaccine. Laos' immunisation programme added the vaccine in 1984 and it has been used since then to maintain the country's polio free status up until 2000.
In October, the Ministry of Health launched the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) programme to further boost immunity against polio for children under 12 months of age.
Together with 196 other countries, Laos has introduced the IPV vaccine with the aim of making the whole world polio free by 2020. It will also help to gradually reduce morbidity and mortality among children.
The universal introduction of IPV aims to secure the gains made against the disease through stronger immunisation systems, so that all children in Laos and around the globe have access to vaccines.
The recent vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV) case in Laos is a reminder that every child must be immunised against polio.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) provides about 200,000 doses to protect Lao children and help them stay free from polio.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 19, 2015)