JUST A FEW STEPS AND PO­LIO WILL BE GONE

The East African - - NEWS - By A CORRESPONDENT Xin­hua News Agency

Africa is on the verge of erad­i­cat­ing po­lio if the cur­rent mo­men­tum is sus­tained through im­proved sur­veil­lance, vac­ci­na­tion and pub­lic aware­ness.

AFRICA IS on the verge of erad­i­cat­ing po­lio if the cur­rent mo­men­tum is sus­tained through im­proved sur­veil­lance, vac­ci­na­tion and pub­lic aware­ness, a World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­gional di­rec­tor for Africa, Mat­shidiso Moeti, has said.

Ms Moeti said the ma­jor­ity of Africa is likely to be de­clared po­lio-free by 2019 if they step up pre­ven­tion of and treat­ment of the dis­ease.

“Africa had made tremen­dous progress to­wards po­lio erad­i­ca­tion, from ac­count­ing for al­most half of the global po­lio bur­den with 128 cases in 2012, to four in 2016,” she said in a state­ment re­leased in Nairobi.

She warned that com­pla­cency could trig­ger new in­fec­tions in re­mote cor­ners of the con­ti­nent where sur­veil­lance is weak.

Africa wit­nessed a re­cur­rence of po­lio in 2016 when four cases were recorded in north­ern Nige­ria, where the risks of an out­break are higher due to in­se­cu­rity and un­reg­u­lated cross-bor­der move­ment.

Ms Moeti noted that timely re­sponse, in­clud­ing vac­ci­na­tion of chil­dren and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion on im­proved hy­giene, averted deaths in north­ern Nige­ria and a large swathe of the Lake Chad Basin.

“It was an ex­am­ple of best prac­tice as po­lit­i­cal and com­mu­nity lead­ers were en­gaged to en­sure suc­cess of the largest ever po­lio cam­paign in Africa,” she said.

“Over 190,000 po­lio vac­ci­na­tors si­mul­ta­ne­ously im­mu­nised more than 116 mil­lion chil­dren aged un­der five in 13 coun­tries across West and Cen­tral Africa,” said Moeti.

She noted that African coun­tries that are prone to po­lio out­breaks are yet to put in place glob­ally-recog­nised sur­veil­lance mea­sures while in­se­cu­rity and poverty could worsen their vul­ner­a­bil­ity to the dis­ease.

Early this year, African lead­ers en­dorsed a com­pre­hen­sive pact to pro­mote im­mu­ni­sa­tion against de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases like po­lio by 2019.

Im­mu­ni­sa­tion to pro­tect chil­dren aged un­der five years against po­lio.

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