ZAMBIA is not among the 13 African countries enlisted for under five children vaccination against polio.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.
“All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent,” the WHO stated.
The WHO stated that synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, was part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.
The WHO revealed that in August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said 20 years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign.
“At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75,000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease,” said Dr Moeti who, however, added that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.