Huge Turnout for Polio 3

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The last round of the polio vaccination campaign was characterized by the crying of hundreds of children under the age of five as they received polio and measles vaccines and vitamin A supplements yesterday. The third and last round in a series of three vaccination campaigns targets the young and intends to reach a record 333 955 kids. Like most centres across the country, the Khomasdal Clinic started with the exercise at 08h00 and within three hours the centre had vaccinated over 200 children. “The response is overwhelming. We can see that parents really care about their children and have turned out in numbers to have them vaccinated,” explained registered nurse Anna Shiweda. Although the centre was well stocked with the necessary polio drops, measles medicine and vitamin A supplements, Shiweda felt the centre was under-staffed. The centre yesterday could only attend to patients with crucial signs of sickness as the two nurses and one volunteer were kept busy by the large numbers of children to be armed against possible diseases of polio, measles and blindness by giving them vitamin A. The problem of staff-shortage was experienced also at Katutura Clinic where the nurse could not even spare a minute for an impromptu interview. Long queues bore testimony to the positive response from parents. Karas Regional Director of Health Puumue Katjiuanjo also confirmed yesterday that “the response is great”. He added that at this pace the region was likely to reach its set target of over 6 000 children to be vaccinated. Unlike the centres visited around Windhoek he said that vaccination points in that region were equipped with all the necessary “tools” such as the vaccines, transport and personnel. “There is no way we will run out of vaccines,” he assured our news crew. In the Kavango Region, the Health Director Elizabeth Muremi expressed concern at what she termed “limited resources”. She cited transport as one of the challenges the region is facing. Muremi was however adamant that the “work will be done by the end of the day”. The Ministry of Health and Social Services could not comment on yesterday’s work as the Director of Primary Health Care, Maggaleena Nghatanga, felt it was still too early to state how fieldwork was progressing. “We do not have any feedback yet. Since there is no information from the fields we would think everything is okay.” The nationwide vaccination campaign is expected to end tomorrow. Although the third round of polio forms part of the annual vaccination process for children under the age of five, Namibia has since May been hit by a polio virus attacking humans of all ages and that killed dozens. Since the outbreak, 279 cases and 32 deaths have been recorded. Confirmed wild polio type one cases remain at 20. A total number of 197 cases have been discounted as polio and the laboratory continues to examine the remaining specimens taken. Shangula reported that the ministry has not yet established the origin of this polio virus.