Kenya, Mozambique and Niger contain polio outbreaks (WHO)

Kenya, Mozambique and Niger have contained polio outbreaks that had erupted in different episodes over the past two years. A new deal that allows these three African countries to regain their status as a polio-free country, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday.

“The cessation of outbreaks in these three countries is proof that response activities, combined with high-quality vaccination campaigns and vigilant surveillance of the disease, can put an end to the remaining outbreaks in the region,” said said Dr. Modjirom Ndoutabe, coordinator of the polio outbreak rapid response team in the WHO office for Africa.

Transmission of the vaccine-derived poliovirus was detected in these three countries in 2018 and early 2019 and had affected a total of 14 children. “We are greatly encouraged by this achievement and determined in our efforts to see all types of polio eradicated from the African continent,” added Dr. Ndoutabe. For the UN agency, these results are proof of its commitment and that of governments and partners to “ensure that future generations live free from this debilitating virus”.

No wild poliovirus detected in Africa since 2016

No wild poliovirus has been detected in Africa since 2016. This contrasts sharply with 1996, when the wild poliovirus paralyzed more than 75,000 children across the continent. However, some countries are currently facing outbreaks of vaccine-related poliovirus.

Polioviruses derived from a vaccine strain are rare, but they affect unvaccinated and under-immunized populations living in areas where sanitation is inadequate and where vaccination levels against polio are low. When children receive the oral polio vaccine, the attenuated vaccine virus replicates in their intestines for a short time to acquire the necessary immunity and is then excreted in the stool in the environment where it can mutate.

If polio vaccination coverage remains low in a community and sanitation remains insufficient, the mutated viruses will be transmitted to susceptible populations, which will lead to the emergence of vaccine-derived polioviruses.

The countries still experiencing outbreaks of vaccine-related poliovirus in Africa are Angola, Benin, Cameroon, CAte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Togo and Zambia.

Refusal of vaccination and poor vaccination coverage are among the risk factors

The risk factors for these outbreaks include low routine immunization coverage, refusal of vaccination, difficult access to certain places and poor quality of vaccination campaigns, which made vaccination of all children difficult.

For WHO, African countries experiencing outbreaks should ensure that their routine immunization systems are robust as they continue to implement their outbreak response.

It also involves following internationally agreed guidelines and strengthening surveillance activities to quickly detect any new cases. To carry out the required response to an outbreak, the commitment of government authorities at all levels, civil society and the general population, is crucial to ensuring that all children under the age of five are immunized against polio.

To end outbreak control activities in an affected country, national and regional disease surveillance and laboratory teams must confirm that no polio transmission has been detected in the samples taken. on paralyzed children, children in contact and the environment for at least nine months. The response to the polio epidemic requires strong multisectoral collaboration.

Source: UN News Service