Polio as a Platform: Using National Immunization Days to Deliver Vitamin A Supplements

Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78(3):305-14.


In 1988 the 41st World Health Assembly committed WHO to the goal of global eradication of poliomyelitis by 2000 "in ways which strengthen national immunization programmes and health infrastructure". The successful use of polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) to deliver vitamin A is an example of how polio eradication can serve as a platform to address other problems of child health. Importantly, this integration is helping to achieve the World Summit for Children goal of eliminating vitamin A deficiency by the year 2000. It is estimated that between 140 million and 250 million preschool children are at risk of subclinical vitamin A deficiency. In 1998 more than 60 million children at risk received vitamin A supplements during polio national immunization days (NIDs). While food fortification and dietary approaches are fundamental to combating vitamin A deficiency, the administration of vitamin A supplements during NIDs helps raise awareness, enhance technical capacity, improve assessment and establish a reporting system. Moreover, polio NIDs provide an entry point for the sustainable provision of vitamin A supplements with routine immunization services and demonstrate how immunization campaigns can be used for the delivery of other preventive health services.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated / administration & dosage
  • Program Evaluation
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / prevention & control
  • World Health Organization


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated
  • Vitamin A