Following confirmation on 23 January of a polio case in the southwestern province of Ombella Mpoko, Central African Republic (CAR) health officials have scheduled an anti-polio immunisation drive in the province for 23-28 February.
"To avoid other cases, all the children in the region must be immunised," Nestor Nali, the health minister, was quoted as saying on Monday by state-owned Radio Centrafrique.
Nali announced the immunisation plan following a meeting with CAR health partners in the capital, Bangui. Representatives of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund and those of the Pasteur Institute were among those who attended the meeting.
The polio case was detected in December 2003 in Bossembele, 157 km northwest of Bangui, and was confirmed on 23 January by the Pasteur Institute Polio Laboratory. Prior to this case, polio was last detected in the CAR over three years ago.
In November and December 2003, an anti-polio drive was conducted in all the country's 16 provinces, one year after the last was conducted.
On 27 January, WHO said that the latest polio case in the CAR was linked to viruses circulating in northern Nigeria, where polio immunisation campaigns had been suspended since August 2003.
The CAR case followed the reporting of a polio virus from northern Nigeria spreading to other previously polio-free countries in west and central Africa. WHO urged Nigeria to resume its polio immunisation campaigns in the north.
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