NIGERIA – The 39th Expert Review Committee (ERC) for Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization has expressed optimism that the Nigerian programme is on course to stop the transmission of the circulating Variant Polio Virus (cVPV2) with ‘impressive progress’ recorded.

The ERC meets periodically to evaluate progress toward the attainment of a polio-free Nigeria. The monitoring body comprising global and local experts on polio eradication guides the government and partners on how they can interrupt the residual risk of all forms of poliovirus and boost routine immunization in the country.

Recall that Nigeria was declared wild poliovirus free in 2020. However, the circulating Variant Polio Virus2 (cVPV2) strain transmission continues. In 2022 alone, Nigeria reported 168 case.

The Experts further appreciated the strong progress in the country and emphasized that there is a consensus among both the local and international partners that Nigeria can interrupt the transmission of cVPV2 by December 2023.

Meanwhile, the government of Nigeria and its partners have continued to improve the quality of immunization activities in the country by implementing Supplementary Immunization (SIAs) campaigns in many states.

The SIAs are targeted to address the residual risk of all forms of poliovirus and boost routine immunization in the country.

More than 33 million children vaccinated in Southern Africa

More than 33 million children across five southern African countries have been vaccinated against poliovirus since Malawi confirmed its first case of wild poliovirus type 1 in 30 years, with over 80 million vaccine doses administered over the past year.

A total of nine wild poliovirus cases have been reported so far, with one in Malawi and eight in neighbouring Mozambique since the declaration of an outbreak on 17 February 2022 in Malawi.

The last confirmed case to date was in August 2022 in Mozambique.

The wild poliovirus in Malawi and Mozambique originated from Pakistan, one of the two last endemic countries.

To date, 19 vaccination rounds have been concluded in the most at-risk areas and at least five more are planned for 2023 in the five countries.

Additionally, more than 10 new environmental surveillance sites have been set up over the past year in the affected countries with support from WHO. The fully operational sites are playing a critical role in the efforts to detect silent circulating poliovirus in wastewater.

Reaching all households where eligible children live is critical to protect them against the risk of paralysis.

The national health authorities, with support from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, efforts are ongoing to map cross-border communities, migratory routes, border crossings and transit routes.

Concerted emergency response launched following the outbreak in 2022 has helped increase protection among children through vaccines in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The countries have also ramped up disease surveillance and community mobilization to help find cases and halt the virus.

Botswana Oral Polio Vaccination Campaign

The Ministry of Health of Botswana has announced that it will conduct two rounds of a national house-to-house polio vaccination campaign in all districts in Botswana.

The vaccination campaign will help prevent the spread of this virus to vulnerable children since unvaccinated children are at high risk of polio infection

The campaign will be targeting all children aged 7 years and below from the 23rd to 26th of February 2023 in all districts across the country. The second round of the campaign will take place from the 30th of March 2023 to the 2nd of April 2023.

The ministry has said that the campaign is a public health response to the circulating Vaccine Derived Poliovirus Type 2 (cVOPV2) that was detected in the country through environmental surveillance, as has been previously reported.

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