How close is Africa to eradicating polio?
During the Africa Regional Commission for the Certification of poliomyelitis eradication (ARCC) in Kenya, a committee came together to review Africa’s progress toward becoming certified polio-free.
In 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners established the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the aim of eradicating polio. At this time the disease was paralysing 1000 children each day, the Africa region has not had wild polio cases in over a year.
The Central African Republic, South Africa, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Guinea-Bissau discussed their vaccination coverage, outbreak preparedness, containment measures and their confidence that there is no polio at their borders.
Namibia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo reported that they intend to remain their wild poliovirus free status.
Health experts stated that outbreaks of circulating vaccine-deprived poliovirus in Somalia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo occurred due to varied quality vaccination campaigns and low population immunity.
Surrounding countries were advised to take measures to protect against the outbreak within their borders, while these countries were encouraged to conduct a high-quality outbreak response.
Low population immunity, inaccessibility and insecurity were identified as major concerns with limits to the number of children receiving polio vaccines and the coverage of surveillance efforts in affected areas.
Countries were advised to use innovative technologies, increase their progress towards poliovirus containment and address chronic surveillance gaps.
Dr. Rudi Eggers, Kenya Country Representative, World Health Organisation stated:
“I commend all the countries on the efforts that have gone into achieving the results presented in their reports. It gives us hope that eradication is achievable in the midst of the unique challenges faced by all countries. We appeal to all the countries to fully implement all ARCC recommendations.”
Although Nigeria is endemic for the wild poliovirus, responses are underway to prevent outbreaks in Somalia, Kenya, Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In collaboration with the WHO, UNICEF and other partners, the Ministry of Health has organised numerous vaccination campaigns to protect children’s health.
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Photo Credit: Global Polio Eradication Initiative