WHO Announces Launch Of Mass Polio Vaccination Drive In Five African Countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday announced more than 80 million vaccination doses against wild poliovirus type 1 will be given to over 23 million children under five years in Malawi and four other southern African countries, reported Africa News.

The vaccination drive has been announced after Malawi declared an outbreak of the disease on Feb. 17, the first such case in the country in 30 years, and the first in Africa since the region was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2020. A three-year-old girl in the Lilongwe district was paralyzed due to the infection.

In a statement, the WHO regional office for Africa said the vaccination campaign will begin in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in four rounds.

The first round of the campaign will begin in March. It is estimated that about 9.4 million children will be vaccinated in this first round in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Three more vaccination rounds will be held in April, June, and July. The mass polio vaccination campaign will see over 23 million children getting vaccinated against wild poliovirus type 1 using over 80 million doses of the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine.

“Polio is a highly infectious and untreatable disease that can result in permanent paralysis,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti. “In support of Malawi and its neighbors, we are acting fast to halt this outbreak and extinguish the threat through effective vaccinations.”

Moeti said the African region has already defeated wild poliovirus through a combined effort by countries. She said the UN health body is hopeful that the know-how will help to ensure that every child lives and thrives in a continent free of polio.

The African region was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild poliovirus. The region’s wild polio-free certification remains unchanged.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

Related Articles