TANZANIA – The United Republic of Tanzania has kickstarted the third phase of polio vaccination campaigns with reinforcement from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to get people vaccinated amid the spate of polio outbreaks in Malawi and Mozambique.
Tanzania has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to roll out the polio vaccination drive targeting children under 5 years.
In addition, Tanzania and partners have embarked on surveillance strengthening activities to ensure increased sensitivity of the surveillance system as well as to facilitate early detection of any polioviruses that might be.
The World Health Organization is also supporting Tanzania’s Ministry of Health to step up the polio fight including carrying out large-scale, effective vaccination campaigns to halt the virus and protect children from its debilitating effects.
The response is being coordinated with the help of the partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — the WHO, UNICEF (the UN Children’s Fund), the service club Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
WHO Tanzania Country Office announced that the ongoing national vaccination campaign against polio targets to vaccinate 12,386,854 Tanzanian children under 5 years of age from 1st September 2022 to 4th September 2022 in all 31 regions and 195 districts of Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
The agency further said that it is expected that through four rounds of supplemental vaccination and other activities such as routine vaccination, Tanzania will prevent occurrence of an actual polio case since the country was certified polio free in 2015.
“Preventing the further spread of Wild Polio virus (WPV1) into polio-free countries and the ensuing outbreaks is a top priority in eradicating polio,” the World Health Organization pointed out.
Following the polio outbreak in Malawi and subsequently in Mozambique, vaccination campaigns were necessary in neighboring countries therefore Tanzania vaccinated a total of 1,130,261 in the first round and the second round reached 12,131,049 children where both rounds exceeded their targets.
Mass vaccinations and supplementary vaccinations are the best weapon against the circulation of poliovirus by immunizing every child under 5 years with oral polio vaccine regardless of previous immunization status.
WHO outlined that the third round of polio of polio vaccination campaigns in Tanzania aims at ensuring prevention of polio to all children after Malawi and Mozambique have respectively reported 1 and 4 Wild Polio virus (WPV1) in 2021.
“Detection of Wild Polio virus outside the world’s two remaining endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan is a serious concern and underscores the importance of prioritizing polio immunization activities in countries to prevent future instances of importation,” said the specialized agency.
WHO highlighted that until poliovirus transmission is interrupted in Pakistan and Afghanistan, all countries remain at risk of importation of polio especially vulnerable countries with weak public health and immunization services and travel or trade links to endemic countries.
The World Health Organization emphasized that any form of poliovirus anywhere is a threat to children everywhere, noting that the Global Polio eradication strategies should be fully resourced and fully implemented everywhere to ensure a world free of all forms of poliovirus can be achieved.
In addition, countries were urged to ramp up their efforts to raise awareness for the importance of reaching all children with polio vaccines as well as to continue raising the funds necessary to carry out critical eradication activities to protect vulnerable children and prevent further outbreaks.
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