Experts Gear for Polio 3

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK About 70 health practitioners from all the 13 regions of the country yesterday concluded a two-day meeting that discussed the third round of the polio campaign scheduled for next month. Last week, health authorities completed the second round of the massive vaccination campaigns against polio that has so far claimed 27 lives since the disease was declared an outbreak in May. There are at present 236 suspected cases and 20 of them were confirmed as polio. Yesterday, the Director of Primary Health Care Maggaleena Nghatanga revealed that the meeting which was mainly attended by primary health care experts, directors of health and technical advisors among others from all the 13 regions, discussed mainly the preparations for the third round vaccination which will focus on children under the age of five. The meeting also evaluated some of the challenges faced during the first two polio campaigns. According to Nghatanga, all regions reported on their experiences and one major challenge faced involved lack of transport or delay of transport in some regions. She mentioned Karas, Hardap and Omaheke as some of the regions that faced transport problems. “Most cars were sent on the first day (of round two) and some teams could only start vaccinating around midday given the long distances they had to cover,” she said. Nghatanga also stated that Nampost did not distribute flyers carrying important information on precautions to be taken by people to prevent polio. Like most businesses and individuals, Nampost volunteered to deliver these pamphlets to all its branches for distribution to communities but most regions have not yet received these flyers. “We still have to resolve this with Nampost as it is important that people read about polio and take relevant steps in preventing the disease,” she added. Though main challenges were experienced during the first and second rounds of vaccinations, Nghatanga assured that such problems are unlikely during the third round. Unlike round two that had a total number of 1 118 vehicles, more than 7 000 personnel, and 1 545 teams to carry out the campaign, she said, round three will have less personnel and vehicles given the smaller target population. She could not, however, provide figures. She added that there will be more health workers involved during round three as the campaign will involve injections and that calls for experts. Round three of the polio campaign is scheduled from August 22 to 24. Apart from trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV), the exercise will also include Vitamin A supplementation and measles vaccinations.