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Donncha tackles needle fears for polio mission


WHILE his former international teammates are busy preparing for the first match of the Six Nations tomorrow, Munster star Donncha O'Callaghan is in Nigeria on a mission of his own.

He's hoping to help eradicate the scourge of polio in the West African nation.

The squeamish Irish rugby star admits that he "doesn't do needles", but that didn't get in the way of supporting UNICEF's polio vaccination programme.

"I've brought my own kids to get their vaccinations with my wife Jenny and, I'll be honest, I'm a bit squeamish with needles and stuff," he admitted.

"I had to leave the room when any of my kids had that heel test done. That's why I couldn't believe how simple the polio vaccine is that UNICEF is giving in their programme.

"Just two drops on the tongue for kids under five and that will keep these kids polio free for life," he said.

In his role as UNICEF Ireland ambassador, Donncha spent four days in Nigeria to gauge the extent of the polio problem, visiting medical centres and even administered the dose to a number of children himself. "It's a really sad thing to see people suffering needlessly when polio is so easily prevented," he told the Irish Independent.

Banana importer Fyffes is financing the UNICEF polio vaccination programme, which aims to eradicate polio worldwide by 2018.

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