-The World Health Organisation has declared Africa can overcome polio by 2019.
-The world body, has therefore urged greater commitment to vaccination and monitoring programmes in order to achieve the fit.
-WHO also promised to support government led initiatives.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a 2019 deadline for the eradication of polio in Africa if the current momentum on vaccination and public awareness is sustained.
This was made known on Tuesday by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti who said the majority of African countries are likely to be declared polio free by 2019 if they step up prevention of and treatment interventions for the disease.
“The African region had made tremendous progress towards polio eradication, from accounting for almost half of the global polio burden with 128 cases in 2012, to four cases in 2016,” Moeti said in a statement released in Nairobi.
She however warned against complacency which may trigger new infections in remote areas of the African continent where surveillance is low.
Africa witnessed a recurrence of polio in 2016 when four cases were recorded in northern Nigeria, where the risks of an outbreak are higher due to insecurity and unregulated cross-border movement.
Moeti urged timely vaccination of children coupled with public education on improved hygiene as options that can be adopted to avert deaths in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin.
“In an example of best practice, political and community leaders were engaged to ensure the success of the largest ever polio campaign in Africa.
“Over 190,000 polio vaccinators simultaneously immunized more than 116 million children under five in 13 countries in coordinated effort in west and central Africa,” said Moeti.
“As a region, our surveillance efforts are presently not meeting the mark. A number of countries have sub-optimal surveillance in both secure and insecure areas.
“They should recommit to strengthen surveillance urgently.”
African leaders in January, committed to a comprehensive pact to promote immunization against diseases like polio and Moeti has promised that the international community will support African-led interventions aimed at eradicating polio by 2019.
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