African nations began anti-polio drive to vaccinate 21 million children

Nairobi, May 26 (EFE).- Cameroon, Chad and Niger on Friday began Africa’s largest anti-polio campaign since 2020, to immunize 21 million children under the age of five, after detecting several cases of poliovirus type-2 in the past one year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The campaign will also be extended to the Central African Republic next week.

The multi-country campaign in West and Central African nations comes after 19 cases of type-2 poliovirus were detected in the region this year, including 10 in Chad, four in Central African Republic, three in Cameroon and two in Niger.

“Synchronizing the campaign will ensure that a large cohort of children across the four countries receive the vaccine at the same time to enhance polio immunity in a broad geographic area,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.

“This is a crucial undertaking to close vaccination gaps in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide millions of children with vital protection from the risk of irreversible polio paralysis,” he added.

WHO noted that the Lake Chad basin region, where the campaign is underway, is among the areas with the highest percentage of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world.

Although these four countries have been certified “free of indigenous wild poliovirus,” the variant poliovirus type-2 still persists and is the most prevalent type of the virus in Africa.

Last year, at least 400 cases of the polio type-2 were detected in 14 African countries.

In addition to the ongoing campaign in these African countries, health workers are now also administering vaccines in homes, religious centers, markets and schools.

Poliovirus mostly circulate among the insufficiently immunized communities, making vaccination essential to contain new outbreaks of the virus in communities.

Caused by viruses, Polio is a communicable and incurable disease that mainly affects children under five and one in each 2000 infections leads to irreversible paralysis among children. EFE


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