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Vaccine-derived polio virus remains an emergency for Africa-WHO

A nurse adminsters drops of polio vaccine to a four year old pupil.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  The World Health Organisation has cautioned that a Vaccine Derived Polio Virus, remains an emergency for Africa where several children under 15 remain unvaccinated.    

Vaccine-derived polio spreads mostly where vaccine coverage is low and there is poor sanitation. In this case, a child who is immunized is given a weak form of the poliovirus to build their immune system, but when the child excretes them, it spreads to the unimmunized community especially affected children through food and water.  

According to Dr Annet Kisakye, the Immunization Focal Person with World Health Organisation (WHO), Vaccine derived Polio is a danger for a country like Uganda, as its neighbour Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has registered a case alongside other African countries like Zambia and Ghana.  

Dr Kisakye was a keynote speaker at an event organized by the Rotary District 9211, to commemorate the World Polio Day, which was marked globally on Thursday, October 24. The event was hosted by the Rotary Club of Muyenga Tank Hill, at Hotel International Muyenga, last evening.  

Dr Kisakye said that challenges with routine immunisation caused by conflicts, large population movements and limited community mobilization, among others, have crippled efforts to eradicate Polio.   She says, for instance, several people miss some of the required three doses of Oral Polio Vaccine(OPV) and one Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) which comes by injection before the first birthday of a child.  

During the same meeting, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng welcomed the news that another strain of the wild poliovirus had been eradicated worldwide. An independent commission of experts had announced earlier in the day that the wild poliovirus type 3, which was last seen in Nigeria had been wiped out, reducing the wild poliovirus burden in the world.     

Aceng said that curbing Polio has reduced child mortality and instead improved on the lifespan of Ugandans.   She, however, hastened to add that immunisation was still hindered by myths and misconceptions cushioned in tradition and religion, among others.     

There are three individual and immunologically-distinct wild poliovirus strains: wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3).

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