Saudi Arabia contributes US$1.6 million for polio eradication to UNICEF Niger

UNICEF announced that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed US$1,588,000 to UNICEF Niger to support polio eradication. The funds will purchase Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and will allow the Government of Niger and its partners to immunize up to 3.77 million children in 2011. Guido Cornale, UNICEF Representative in Niger, said, “The generous funding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be instrumental to ensure a steady supply of OPV for immunization campaigns in Niger. This will allow the Government of Niger, with the support of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners, to reinforce immunization activities at a particularly critical time.” Niger is described as one of the countries in the ‘wild poliovirus importation belt’ – a band of countries stretching from West Africa to Central Africa and the Horn of Africa that are recurrently re-infected with polio virus. It is therefore critical that nationwide synchronized vaccination campaigns are conducted in these countries in order to rapidly control outbreaks. UNICEF noted that the grant of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Niger is part of a total contribution of US$10 million to UNICEF to purchase OPV for seven countries in 2011 – Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – to support the immunization of up to 33 million under-5 children across the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and West Africa.