Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
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African countries warned of polio outbreak risks

With 300 confirmed polio cases having already been confirmed in Africa so far this year – and almost 250 detections in wastewater samples – several countries have been advised to address gaps in immunity to prevent outbreaks.

August marked a full year since the WHO last confirmed detection of wild poliovirus type 1, reports News24.

The independent Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (ARCC) has now advised Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to tackle problems in polio immunity to eliminate the possibility of further spreading of the disease.

The guidance follows a week of deliberations – in Mozambique – on how to counter epidemics, and was attended by partners, countries rand ARCC members.

Professor Rose Leke, chair of ARCC, said there should be urgency in increasing efforts “regarding the implementation of quality and timely supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs) as well as surveillance, to increase population immunity and ensure early detection of any circulating viruses”.

Concerns remain about the risk of polio type 1 spreading in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Lake Chad Basin, across the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa, because of low immunisation levels.

“Reluctance to vaccinate in population pockets in some African countries hampers eradication efforts,” the ARCC said, “and until every child is vaccinated against polio, every country remains at risk of an outbreak.”

ARCC noted the difficulties in Nigeria, where polio type 2 is persistent, because of logistical challenges in the vaccination process, advising countries to use geographic information systems to “improve the quality of surveillance and outbreak response while considering challenges in accessibility to services, including gender-related issues”.

The African region is certified as being free of native wild poliovirus by the ARCC, which was founded in 1998.

To ensure countries are following the standards established for the worldwide certification of wild poliovirus, it constantly assesses the data in documents provided by national certification committees.

Its twice-yearly meetings verify the progress in the annual certification updates of chosen nations regarding their efforts to eradicate polio in all 47 of the WHO’s African member states.


News24 article – Polio risk: several southern African countries put on notice that they risk outbreaks (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Gavi green-lights new jab in global fight against polio


Polio may never be eradicated, say experts


First polio outbreak in Mozambique in 30 years


Malawi declares outbreak following Africa’s first wild polio case in five years





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