As the world marked this year’s Polio Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned that over 100 million children in the African region remain at risk of paralysis by vaccine-derived poliovirus
The organisation said the best way to protect these children is by increasing population immunity through routine immunisation and ensuring strong surveillance systems are in place to rapidly detect any cases.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, however, noted that it has been more than six years since a child was paralysed from wild poliovirus in the African Region.
Moeti, who gave this hint in her message to commemorate the 2021 World Polio Day, an annual event, marked every 24th of October, to create polio awareness, noted that outbreaks of the virus are currently affecting 23 African countries.
She, therefore, stressed the need to end all forms of polio once and for all, saying “These outbreaks must be rapidly contained by conducting high quality vaccination campaigns within two months of outbreak notification.
“An additional tool, the novel oral polio vaccine is now available and it can help to end these outbreaks. I am proud to say that African countries have been the first globally to rollout this vaccine.”
She congratulated all member states in the region for their unwavering commitment to ending polio, evidenced also by the speed and scale with which immunisation campaigns resumed after a pause due to COVID-19 related disruptions.
“Today, on World Polio Day, we celebrate that it has been more than six years since a child was paralysed from wild poliovirus in the African Region.
“This remarkable achievement led to the certification in August 2020 that the WHO African Region is free of wild polio. This tremendous public health milestone was 25 years in the making and it was brought about by the determination of frontline health workers, communities, governments and partners.
“Many of the people that made a wild polio free Africa a reality, are still working tirelessly, going door-to-door to vaccinate children to protect them from another form of this virus, known as circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.
“More than 100 million children remain at risk of paralysis by vaccine-derived poliovirus, the best way to protect them is by increasing population immunity through routine immunisation and ensuring strong surveillance systems are in place to rapidly detect any cases,” said Moeti.