OPEC Fund backs polio eradication in Africa with US$600,000 Grant



December 14, 2004
Vienna, Austria
The OPEC Fund for International Development today approved a grant of US$600,000 to aid UNICEF in the final thrust of its campaign against the highly infectious and debilitating disease poliomyelitis (polio). Grant resources will help finance national immunization days in Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, with the aim of halting transmission of the polio virus in those countries.
Affecting primarily children under the age of three, polio is a virus of the nervous system which can cause total paralysis. While there is no cure, it can be largely prevented through immunization. Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988 by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and other key public/private partners, the number of polio cases has decreased worldwide from 350,000 to fewer than 700 in 2003.
With only six countries still endemic, total eradication is now within sight. Concerns remain, however, over the recent rise in “imported” cases in West African countries that were previously polio free.
Over the next 12 months, the primary goal of the campaign is to step up synchronized immunization programs in west and central Africa to get eradication efforts back on track. The aim is to carry out multiple rounds of national immunization days throughout 2005.
The OPEC Fund grant will help finance one vaccination round for a total of 9.4 million children under the age of five in Niger , Chad and Burkina Faso . This will include the provision of oral polio vaccine together with the necessary cold chain equipment to ensure safe and effective inoculations. Planning, monitoring and logistical support will also be provided, as will assistance to social mobilization efforts.
Today’s grant represents the Fund’s third contribution to the global polio eradication campaign. Earlier grants have supported immunization programs in Nepal and in 10 African countries affected by conflict.


Project: Polio Eradication Campaign in Africa
Total OPEC Fund grant:
Beneficiary Countries: Grant amount:
Chad US$200,000
Burkina Faso
Executing Agency:
Channel: UNICEF
Grant administrator: OPEC Fund
Project Duration: 1 year