RUKWA Region is set to officially launch a polio vaccination campaign that will be administered door-to- door for five days, starting from this Thursday.
The campaign will reach about 217,674 children under the age of five years in four councils of Sumbawanga municipality, Nkasi, Kalambo and Sumbawanga district councils.
Rukwa Regional Immunisation and Vaccination Officer (RIVO), Mr Thobias Gwankisa said this during one day training for journalists held here yesterday.
He further elaborated that the poliovirus campaign followed a recent confirmed case of polio outbreak in Malawi.
“The five-day polio campaign will be launched officially on April 28th (Thursday) and is expected to reach about 217,674 children below five years old. We have so far received 250,320 doses of poliovirus vaccines,” explained Mr Gwankisa.
The leading facilitator, Rukwa Regional Reproductive and Child Health Coordinator (RRCHCo), Ms Asha Ressa Izina said that poliovirus affects the nerve system and can cause total paralysis within hours
“While there is no cure for polio, the disease can be prevented through administration of a simple and effective vaccine, which is safe and has been approved by World Health Organisation (WHO),” she noted.
Regional Health Promotion Coordinator (RHRCo), Mr Oswald Temba said that last polio case in Tanzania was registered in 1996.
Mr Temba said polio is spread when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food (fecal-oral transmission). Oral-oral transmission by way of an infected person’s saliva may account for some cases.
“The polio virus is transmitted from person to person mainly through oral route and through contaminated water or food,” emphasized Mr Temba.
As per medical experts’ literature, polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and its last case in Africa was identified in Northern Nigeria in 2016 and globally there were only five cases in 2021.
In August 2020, Africa was declared free of wild poliovirus.
However, health authorities in Malawi have on February 17th this year declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1.
The virus was detected in a young child in Malawi capital of Lilongwe.
In a statement, WHO said that this is the first case of wild poliovirus in Africa in more than five years.