Dr Matshida who addressed journalists in a tele-press briefing says that Africa passes a milestone threshold- three years with no case of wild poliovirus detected in Africa.
African countries have been urged to strengthen routine immunization
and surveillance measures to detect polio outbreaks.
The call was made on Wednesday by the World Health Organization Regional
Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in Brazzaville, Congo, as Africa
marked a major milestone on the path to polio eradication.
Dr Matshida who addressed journalists in a tele-press briefing says that Africa
passes a milestone threshold- three years with no case of wild polio virus
detected in Africa.
She says that the three-year landmark celebrated sets in motion a
comprehensive evaluation process by the Africa Regional Certification
Commission to determine if the entire WHO African Region of 47 countries can be
declared free from polio.
“We are confident that soon we will be declaring the certification that
countries have, once and for all, kicked polio out of Africa,” said Dr Matshidiso
She says that if the evaluation process proves the wild virus is gone, Africa
will join four of the WHO regions, the Americas, the Western Pacific, Europe
and South-East Asia. It will leave only the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region
still working to stop the virus.
Dr Moeti praised the continent’s resilience and strong commitment
to stopping the virus in overcoming the tough challenges.
“The path to eradicating polio in Africa has been a monumental effort of
multinational coordination on an unprecedented scale, providing vaccinations to
hundreds of millions of children and conducting immunization campaigns in some
of the most remote locations in the world, with vigilance and exhaustive
surveillance to timely detect outbreaks, including among people on the move,”
She also noted that these successes would not have been possible without the
incredible perseverance of countries and partners in the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative who have mobilized the financial and technical resources
to get the job done.
“Reaching every last child with life-saving vaccines as well as
strengthening surveillance and routine immunization across the region will be
essential to sustain the progress against wild polio and other strains.” She
She, however, raised concern over the challenges of accessing some areas which
are stuck with insurgencies which makes them inaccessible hence affecting
immunization coverage yet there is a need to reach and protect communities from
the rare non-wild polio strains that can emerge when a population is not
Dr Pascal Mkanda, coordinator of the Polio Eradication Program at
the World Health Organisation says that routine immunization coverage remains a
critical challenge since some communities have populations with low immunity
levels which may cause re-occurrences in such communities.
Steve Landry the director of Multilateral Partnerships, Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, says that they are committed to continue supporting
African countries to kick polio out of the continent.
The call comes at a time when Uganda has rescheduled the mass
immunization campaign for Rubella and measles from 18th -22 to 25th
-29 September after the ministry of health
officials realizing that the major target audience of
this vaccination campaign will be in examination season.