NEARLY 2,8 million children under five years of age are expected to be vaccinated with a supplementary polio vaccine dose in the wake of a resurgence of the disease in southern Africa.
Speaking during the national launch of the vaccination campaign yesterday, Health and Child Care minister Douglas Mombeshora, however, said Zimbabwe has not recorded any polio cases yet.
“For the record, no polio case has been reported in Zimbabwe, hence the need to intensify these collaborative polio response activities with vaccination as the main strategy for us to mitigate potential importation of the disease into the country,” Mombeshora said.
The campaign will run until Friday targeting 2 773 940 children.
“This calls for a concerted effort in intensifying and strengthening both routine and supplementary immunisation in the country especially for the under five children who are at the highest risk,” Mombeshora said.
“With each of the scheduled vaccination rounds we continue to remind our communities that poliomyelitis is indeed a dangerous disease which causes debilitating paralysis and death particularly among children and is targeted for eradication locally and globally.”
He said the ministry continues to remind communities about the dangers of poliomyelitis.
“The country has also introduced environmental sampling for polioviruses starting with Harare in 2023, with plans to roll it out to other cities and provinces in the country. This will result in increased capacity to detect and respond to poliovirus importation and circulation in Zimbabwe.”
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The ministry is conducting the polio supplementary vaccination campaigns for children in close collaboration with six other countries — Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Speaking at the same event, World Health Organisation representative to Zimbabwe, Jean-Marie Dangou, commended the ongoing efforts to protect children against the risk of polio infection.
“To ensure that polio is kept out of Zimbabwe, it is important to strengthen routine immunisation and disease surveillance beyond this campaign,” Dangou said.
“While routine immunisation is improving after the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more work needs to be done to ensure all those missed children are identified and vaccinated."
The mass vaccination campaigns were launched after an outbreak in Malawi last year.