JUST A FEW STEPS AND POLIO WILL BE GONE
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.