Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe Dr John Mangwiro yesterday officially launched Zimbabwe’s mass campaign aimed at vaccinating and protect all children under the age of five years in the county against Polio. He said Polio was a dangerous disease which causes paralysis and death particularly among children and was targeted for eradication globally.
“Today we officially launch a mass campaign to vaccinate and protect all children under the age of five years in Zimbabwe against Polio. Polio is a dangerous disease which causes debilitating paralysis and death particularly among children and is targeted for eradication globally,” said Dr Mangwiro.
The Deputy Minister of Health said the campaign came on the backdrop of re-emerging Polio outbreaks in Malawi and Mozambique, but Zimbabwe has no outbreak cases of Polio.
“No polio case has been reported in Zimbabwe so far and vaccination remains the main strategy for us to mitigate potential importation of the disease. The national polio vaccination drive which we launch today is being implemented in close collaboration with four other countries in the region namely Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia in the spirit of regional integration.
“It is part of a raft of public health measures we are implementing to respond and mitigate the impact of re-emerging polio outbreaks so far reported in Malawi and Mozambique,” said the Deputy Minister of Health.
Dr Mangwiro said the vaccination programme will be done through administering supplementary doses of oral polio vaccine. He pointed out that since Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique share inter-linked boundaries there were chances of cross-border spreading of the disease, hence the vaccination programme.
“The administration of two rounds of supplementary doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to all children under five years is a cost-effective public health measure to boost protection levels among our children and avert importation of the poliovirus from affected countries. It is common knowledge that we share strong socio-economic and historical links with both affected countries-Malawi and Mozambique, and there are high chances of cross-border spread of the disease,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Speaking on the same occasion, World Health Organisation Representative, Dr Alex Gasasira urged all members of the community to ensure that their children get vaccinated and called for strengthening routine immunisation and disease surveillance in order to keep Zimbabwe free of Polio.
“We call upon parents and communities to present their children aged under 5 years for vaccination over the next 3 days. Let us all do our best to support all parents, including those in hard-to-reach communities to get their children immunised.
“To ensure that polio is kept out of Zimbabwe, it will be important to strengthen routine immunization and disease surveillance. We acknowledge the actions that have already commenced in this regard,” said Dr Gasasira.
In the spirit of leaving no one behind the Ministry and its partners have made significant investments in deploying teams to conduct door-to-door Polio mobilisation and vaccinating in all areas of the country for the four campaign days.
The first round of vaccination in Zimbabwe is running from 27 to 30 October 2022, while the second round is scheduled from 1 to 4 December 2022, with the aim of vaccinating all children below the age of five years regardless of their vaccination status.