(2012), "Africa - Africa: final global push need to combat polio", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 25 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2012.06225caa.012Download as .RIS
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Africa - Africa: final global push need to combat polio
Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 25, Issue 3
Keywords: Immunisation programmes, Polio incidence reduction, Community outreach strategies, Quality healthcare improvement
The world is close to complete polio eradication but one final push is needed.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), few polio cases remain globally but a final push of commitment is needed, including added financial resources and increased immunisation awareness in communities, to overcome the last cases.
This information was released at the third annual regional conference for immunisation in Windhoek.
According to the WHO, African countries account for 57 per cent of all the cases of polio in the world. Since 1988, polio incidence has fallen by 99 per cent, from more than 350,000 cases to 1,291 cases in 2010.
The disease remains endemic in only four countries Angola, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Isolated cases of polio have also been identified in five formerly polio-free countries in Africa, including Kenya and Mali.
But overcoming the final 1 per cent could be the trickiest stretch yet. According to the WHO, the current funding gap of U$535 million for 2011 to 2012 “presents an immediate and major risk for the full implementation of planned activities”.
The message of the importance of immunisation is not filtering down to communities and vaccines are relatively inaccessible, the WHO says.
Other obstacles in the way of eradicating polio are “weak surveillance systems […] [and] low level of domestic funding”.
Moreover, the WHO states that “high-level political commitment is not always translated into programme ownership and community outreach strategies actions at lower levels”. There is also resistance to vaccination in some communities, which requires more social and behavioural research.
At the opening of the conference yesterday, Prime Minister Nahas Angula, who delivered a speech on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, said the theme for this year’s conference is “A Polio-free Africa”.
He said the first commitment made by the international community towards the eradication of polio was made 22 years ago.
“African governments have given top priority to this commitment to ensure that our children do not die unnecessarily from vaccine preventable diseases, such as polio,” he said. He said even countries that are certified polio free need to remain vigilant. “There is neither time to rest nor to become complacent until the world is free from polio.”
The conference on immunisation is a platform where countries and organisations review progress, share experiences and update participants on new technologies and strategies to improve immunisation, said Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, the WHO regional director for Africa.
Sambo said investment in vaccination requires more attention from governments so that all the countries in Africa can reach 90 per cent routine immunisation coverage.
He said it is unfortunate that, with the availability of new vaccines, children are still unable to reap the benefits due to high costs. He also said there is still a lot to be done to reduce costs and increase access to new vaccines.
According to Sambo, progress in polio eradication in the region has been mixed this year. He said the transmission of the polio virus persists in endemic and re-infected countries.
Sambo praised Namibia for consistently achieving immunisation coverage rates higher than the African average.
For more information: www.allafrica.com