Minister Hails Polio Campaign

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By Surihe Gaomas

WINDHOEK

With the recently ended polio immunisation campaign in the country, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi expects more than 80 percent coverage nationwide.

He described the latest national immunisation days (NIDs) as satisfactory, as no major problems were experienced at all the fixed and mobile immunisation points in the country.

Kamwi noted however that the only problem was the “denomination factor” in some parts of the country, where the population size is much higher than normal.

The population denominator factor is when the catchment population does not correspond with the official number of people living in a specific area due to border migratory factors.

“Like in northern Namibia, from Kavango right up to Opuwo in the Kunene Region, as well as Engela, Eenhana, Okalongo and along the Ruacana, where we have Angolan nationals, the score will be more than 100 percent coverage,” said Kamwi.

This situation is different from the southern part of the country where the population size is generally much lower as compared to the north.

On the part of the general public, the response to the NIDs against polio this year has been satisfactory.

Kamwi said inaccessible areas of the country, in regions like the Caprivi and Kunene, were also reached through assistance from the Ministry of Defence with helicopters and the air force wing.

Individuals in their own private capacity often availed their own vehicles for the NIDs campaign, while the health ministry provided them with fuel for transportation.

In early June this year, Namibia together with Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) launched a synchronised polio immunisation campaign.

This year’s national immunization days were held from June 27 to 28 and again on July 25 and 26 of this year.

During these days all children up to 59 months received oral polio drops, while the five bordering regions, namely, Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango, Caprivi and Kunene would use the monovalent polio vaccine during the same days with Angola and DRC.

Last year, Namibia’s health sector was taken by surprise when the first case of wild poliovirus was recorded in the country in May.

The number of cases continued to rise and by July, cases recorded were 20.
These confirmed cases were part of the 300 cases of acute flaccid paralysis recorded last year only. The outbreak claimed at least 32 lives and most of these polio incidents were reportedly imported cases.

In this regard, all three countries felt it was important that a cross-border collaboration effort would ultimately ensure that all children in these countries are immunised against polio.

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