A little while back I reported on the success of a massive polio vaccination campaign in Tajikistan, which stopped polio dead in its tracks within months of the vaccination campaign start. A similar effort is now under way in Angola, Africa, which is experiencing an outbreak of wild poliovirus, that seems to have spread in neighbouring Congo.
The country’s Ministry of Health has reported 19 cases of wild poliovirus since the start of the year, with six of Angola’s 18 provinces having been affected.
Polio cases originating in Angola have spread across the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“Polio virus can travel from village to village and country to country through un-immunized children,” cautioned Koenraad Vanormelingen, UNICEF Representative in Angola.
Low routine immunization rates and the lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities across Angola and Africa in general make children especially vulnerable to polio and other infectious diseases, he said.
This effort is backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). $9 million has been earmarked for this effort, and “tens of thousands of volunteers, health workers, parents, social activists and soldiers, along with community, religious and traditional leaders, will go door-to-door in villages across Angola to hand deliver polio vaccines to every child under five.”
The first leg of this campaign took place August 6-8, with the follow-up leg scheduled for September 10-12, 2010. I have been unable to find comprehensive coverage numbers, however one province is reporting that over 400,000 children received the polio vaccinations during the 3 day span in August. The goal, as expressed by UNICEF is to reach 5.6 million children under 5 years of age with this year’s campaign. We will keep an eye out for further developments regarding this story.
An outbreak of polio in Tajikistan has been halted thanks to vigorous vaccination efforts by 1,000 teams of doctors and nurses. The effort took three months to bear fruit, and was sponsored jointly by USAID and the Tajikistan Ministry of Health. The outbreak infected a reported 430 people, with 19 fatalities, before it was brought under control. The most recent round of vaccinations was conducted on 15–19 June . Preliminary data report coverage of 99.3, with coverage higher than 97% reported from all regions and in the groups aged 0–6 and 7–15 years. Correspondingly, no new cases of infection have been recorded since June 21st. International travelers to this area, and other areas where polio is present, are advised to check with their health care provide to ensure that they are properly vaccinated against the disease.
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan —
Health officials in Tajikistan will start a nationwide polio vaccination campaign Saturday in response to the first outbreak of the disease in the Central Asian country in over a decade.
Tajik deputy Health Minister Azam Mirzoyev said 32 cases of polio have been confirmed including one fatality, and the World Health Organization said it was testing more than 100 other suspected cases.
The polio cases were among 171 people who had acute flaccid paralysis since January in the southwest of Tajikistan, including the capital, Dushanbe, WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari said in Geneva.
UNICEF supplied 4 million doses of polio vaccine to Tajikistan earlier this week. WHO says the polio virus causing the outbreak is most closely related to the virus circulating in northern India. The last case of polio previously detected in Tajikistan was in 1997.
Last week, WHO sent a team to Tajikistan to investigate the outbreak.
WHO experts are trying to determine how the virus got from India to Tajikistan, Bari said.
“There’s trade and travel between the two countries. As part of the investigation, we have people there looking at those travel routes and those trade relationships,” she told The Associated Press.