By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Although the first round of the National Polio Vaccination Campaign was a resounding success at over 100 percent, 19 more people have been diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Paralysis and the outbreak has spread to one more region. Over the past two days, polio cases have risen from 128 to 147. Of this latter figure, 15 are confirmed polio cases. So far, 17 people have died from the disease, while two patients have been admitted in intensive care, and one is in critical condition. The polio outbreak has now spread to the Kavango Region, bringing the total number of affected regions to 12, with the exception of the Omaheke Region where no single polio case has been reported so far. In Kavango, one polio case was reported in the town of Rundu, while the second was at Nankudu. The latest update on the polio situation was announced yesterday by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Dr Kalumbi Shangula when he addressed a press conference on the outcome of the First Round Polio Campaign held from June 21 to 23. Despite the fresh outbreaks the outcome of the emergency mass polio vaccination’s first round has been described as a resounding success, with an overall national coverage of 100,42 percent. A regional breakdown shows that the Erongo Region scored the highest vaccination coverage of 118 percent, followed by Kunene with 116 percent. Khomas comes in third with a coverage rate of 111 percent, followed by both Otjozondjupa and Hardap with 105 percent each and Ohangwena scored 101 percent. Dr Shangula commended both the general public for its overwhelming response, health officials for the hard work as well as development partners for making the first round of the mass polio vaccination campaign a success. So far the operation cost N$6,9 million, of which N$2,5 million was UNICEF’s contribution towards vaccines and social mobilisation campaign materials. The total cost of the entire exercise will amount to N$40 million. A total of 1 244 vehicles took part in the first round of the polio vaccination with the general public providing 678 vehicles. It is also estimated that 1 400 teams involving about 700 health workers and volunteers took part in the three-day campaign. There was also one fatal accident where a health worker died, as well as four minor accidents. However, Dr Shangula noted that there were some shortcomings that will be addressed and re-evaluated at a meeting planned in the Oshikoto Region this coming Thursday and Friday. At this meeting, all the 34 districts and 13 regional senior managers will analyse the process of Round One and plan for the upcoming Round Two due next month. With the major shortcoming of vaccine shortages at certain vaccination points due to the unpredictable movement of people in the country, Dr Shangula noted that with better planning this problem can be eliminated during the second round. “We need to mobilise more energy for Round Two and Round Three. For instance, the population of Windhoek does not remain static due to the migration of people. Another example is that Walvis Bay exceeded by far the permanent number of people who live there as fishermen go in and out,” explained Dr Shangula. “The problem is further inflated by the movement of people,” said Director of Primary Health Care Maggie Nghatanga, adding that even the northern bordering areas of Engela, Nankudu, Caprivi and Oshana had about 20 000 people coming into the country across the border to be vaccinated against polio. These people were coming in from Angola, Zambia and a few from Botswana. “These people come over all the time even during the national immunisation days and it is impossible to predict how many people will turn up at the points and as a result some vaccination points ran out of vaccines,” added Nghatanga. She noted further that the “shortness of the time” with regard to the number of days of the campaign also “put a lot of pressure on health officials – it was rush rush”. She further alluded to the fact that not all Namibians and visitors may have been vaccinated during the first round. Thus, thorough preparation is vital for the second round, where everyone would receive the same two drops of polio vaccines. “The drops in Round Two will be a booster and it is the same vaccine,” stressed Dr Shangula, urging the general public to also come for the second round, which will run from July 18 to 20.
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