Polio Inoculations a Success

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK No new cases of the polio disease have been reported in the country since the completion of the first two rounds of the Mass Polio Immunization Campaigns. Results of the third and final round targeting children under five years for polio, measles and Vitamin A supplements indicate there was a national coverage exceeding 90 percent. Briefing the media about the latest results and the current polio situation in the country, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula, said the national coverage in all thirteen regions for Polio stood at 92 percent, Measles 97 percent and Vitamin A reached a record 97 percent. During the Third Round, some of the regions recorded figures below 90 percent. This was due to the fact that the target population was just an estimate according to the children who were immunized or vaccinated during Rounds One and Two. Shangula further said the percentages are not that much higher compared to the previous rounds because most of the Angolan citizens had returned to their own country for the same vaccinations. “It was observed that during Rounds One and Two many people from neighbouring countries, especially from Angola, came to Namibia for vaccination. However, during Round Three Angola was also conducting similar vaccination campaigns, therefore the influx was minimal,” he explained. Some 301ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 805 children under five years of age were vaccinated during Round Three, which is 90 percent of the estimated target. Both the previous two rounds in the mass immunization campaign against polio stood at 102 percent. On the update of the polio situation in the country, Shangula said few cases of acute flaccid paralysis and deaths have been recorded, without any polio cases confirmed so far since the campaign began. Until now, 280 suspected cases are recorded with 32 deaths, while the number of confirmed Wild Polio Type One cases remain at 20. Shangula noted that although all three campaigns have now ended, the fight against polio is not yet over in the country. “The main aim is to eliminate the wild polio virus from Namibia and to maintain our polio-free status of the past ten years,” he said. In view of this, he urged the public to be continuously alert and wash their hands before meals and after visiting toilet places. “The most important one to prevent outbreaks of similar diseases is to take our children for routine immunization until they are fully immunized,” he mentioned. An evaluation meeting for the Third Round is planned for today and tomorrow (13-14 September 2006) in the capital for various stakeholders to discuss the challenges and successes as well as to plan for ongoing monitoring surveillance. So far, the Ministry of Health has spent approximately N$14-million in all three rounds of the campaign. This amount is based on transport costs, catering services, communications, workshops and logistic supply. The final cost of the entire campaign will be made available once all outstanding payments are made. A sum exceeding N$9,8-million was used during Round One with 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 244 vehicles, 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 400 vaccination teams and about 7ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 health workers and volunteers. In Round Two N$7-million was spent with 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 120, vehicles, 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 545 teams and 7ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 725 personnel In conclusion, the Third and final round led to a total cost of N$2,9-million where a total number of 936 vehicles were used and 5ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 915 personnel in the campaign.