Vaccination a Resounding Success

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK While the first round of the mass Polio Vaccination Campaign is said to have gone very well countrywide, polio cases have reportedly risen dramatically. From the previous confirmed polio cases of 118 reported last week, the number has gone up to 128 cases in just 24 hours. Confirming this to New Era, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula said the increase in the confirmed 10 new polio cases consist of seven from Oshakati and three from Windhoek. Deaths have risen from 14 to 15. A total of 13 people were discharged from hospital last week Friday. All the remaining patients are said to be in a stable condition. Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi has described the first round of the mass Polio Vaccination Campaign as excellent with an above 80 percent coverage countrywide. There was a huge turnout especially on the first day and co-operation from the public had been positive. In the light of this, the Health Minister, who is currently on a health awareness tour of the Caprivi, Kavango and Otjozondjupa Regions, said he was impressed by the overall public response to the vaccination campaign that was conducted nationwide from June 21st to 23rd. According to Kamwi, who was in Rundu over the weekend, one more suspected case has been reported at the town, but this has not yet been confirmed as polio case as tests need to be carried out first. Thus far, 11 regions have been affected by the polio outbreak, leaving the Omaheke and Kavango Regions with no confirmed cases so far. While there was a 90 percent coverage of polio vaccinations in the Caprivi Region, other areas like the Oshana Region are said to have had 105 percent coverage. In the Erongo Region, 91 percent of the population received polio drops, while a total of 332 675 people were immunised in the Khomas Region. This constitutes 111 percent. “The campaign for me was excellent and our teams have managed to cover more than 80 percent countrywide”, said Kamwi, adding that such a positive approach was commendable in light of the serious magnitude of the polio outbreak experienced in the country. However, due to the shortage of vaccines as result of the congestion of unpredictable population dynamics, a “few pockets” of areas have not been covered. According to the Minister, all that remains is a “mop-up” exercise that should not run for longer than a week, where those few people who did not get their two polio drops get them during this stage. “During the distribution of vaccines, some areas had more or less vaccines because of the population discrepancy and we had to bring in more vaccines to those parts where there was a shortage”, explained Kamwi. Another problem experienced during the first round was some wastage of vaccines. This will be addressed during the second round next month. “When you squeeze one is likely to squeeze more than two drops like three or even give just one drop less. But by now, all the team members know how to do this”, added the Minister. It is expected that all the relevant stakeholders in the campaign will be meeting with the health Permanent Secretary, Dr Shangula, to provide a thorough report-back today. It is only then that a comprehensive statistical report will be made available to the public. The second round of immunisation will take place on July 18th to 20th.