More than 1 million polio vaccines have been lost from collateral damage or looting in Sudan since an armed conflict between two powerful generals broke out in late April, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed on Friday, May 5.
A number of cold chain facilities storing the vaccines have been looted, damaged, and destroyed in South Darfur. These facilities are critical for maintaining the potency of the vaccines, which require specific temperature conditions to remain effective, Hazel De Wet, Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF, told Reuters in an email.
The timing of this loss is particularly bad as UNICEF says it was in the midst of a series of polio vaccination campaigns in the country following an outbreak of the virus at the end of 2022.
Polio, a highly contagious and paralyzing disease, was declared eradicated from Africa in 2020 when the continent was certified free of wild poliovirus. The destruction of the vaccines now threatens the progress made in eradicating the disease from the region.
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