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Friday, December 2, 2022

Zimbabwe steps up polio surveillance, vaccination campaign

Harare – Zimbabwe has intensified its wild poliovirus type 1 surveillance and vaccination campaign after recent outbreaks of the disease in Malawi and Mozambique, the Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

According to the United Nations agency, Zimbabwean health authorities are on high alert due to the high traffic volume between Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique where cases have been reported recently.

“Recent reported cases in Mozambique, in particular, have put Zimbabwe on very high alert due to high traffic volumes between the two countries,” the WHO said.

The report of a wild poliovirus outbreak in Malawi in February 2022 necessitated Zimbabwe to conduct a detailed polio risk analysis that informed the development of a response plan.

“The risk analysis identified sub-national surveillance and routine immunization gaps that put the country at high risk of poliovirus importation,” the agency said.

Among other activities to strengthen polio surveillance, the Zimbabwean authorities have intensified the training of health workers on how to detect and handle suspected cases and have introduced community sensitisation meetings.

There has also been an intensified vaccination campaign targeting children below five years old.

The mass vaccination campaign was launched after an outbreak in Malawi in March.

Currently endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, wild poliovirus type 1 is highly infectious, largely affects children younger than five, and can cause lifelong paralysis.

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