ZIMBABWE yesterday embarked on an intensive polio vaccine campaign to curb spread of the virus which has already affected neighbouring Malawi and Mozambique.
Polio is a debilitating and life-threatening disease as the virus can affect the brain and spinal cord, and cause paralysis or even death. It is more dangerous for unvaccinated children.
Addressing journalists in the capital yesterday, deputy Health and Child Care minister John Mangwiro said although the country has no recorded cases, it is already taking preventive measures through vaccination blitzes.
“No case has been reported in Zimbabwe so far and vaccination remains a strategy for us to mitigate potential importation of the disease. The national polio vaccination drive which we are launching today is being implemented in close collaboration with four other countries namely Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia in the spirit of regional integration,” Mangwiro said.
“The administration of two rounds of supplementary doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to all children less than five years old is a cost effective public health measure to boost protection levels among our children and avert importation of the poliovirus from affected countries.”
The first round of polio vaccinations will run from October 27 to 30, while the second round will commence from December 1 to 4 in the country’s 10 provinces.
Mangwiro said mobile teams will cover hard to reach areas to reach out to all targeted children.
Unicef country representative Tajudeen Oyewale said: “If polio exists anywhere, it is a threat to children everywhere. The polio virus knows no geographic borders and can easily spread and paralyze children. The impact of polio paralysis has lifelong implications for children and by extension, their families, the society and the nation.”
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