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Polio On the Rise in Namibia

The poliovirus is sweeping through Namibia with fresh incidents being reported in the Oshana and Ohangwena regions. //

According to Health Permanent Secretary Dr Kalumbi Shangula the number of polio cases have gone up to 60 so far but there have not been any new deaths.

The death toll has been 10 so far from polio and the number of people hospitalized, 47.

A mass immunization drive has been planned to start from June 21. Shangula has said the training of trainers; on how to administer the monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine (mOPV) for the different regions had been completed. He said the trainers would, in turn, go back to train health personnel and other volunteers in the regions next week.The World Health Organisation had helped with the training.

Personnel at the Government Medical Stores also spent most of yesterday packing the drugs for the regions.

The virus has now been reported in the Khomas, Oshana, Otjozondjupa, Hardap, Oshikoto, and Ohangwena regions.

However, Government has decided to immunize two million people - including visitors. Unicef flew in 2,5 million doses of the vaccine on Tuesday morning.

'Everything is going according to plan,' Shangula said yesterday.

Unicef's Khin-Sandi Lwin said on Tuesday that they were confident that the Ministry of Health, with the help of development partners, would meet the challenge.

'Namibia is not alone in this. We are in this all together,' she said.

Unicef spent N$2,1 million (US$312 000) to buy and airfreight the vaccine.

The first round of the State-sponsored drive to immunize every Namibian against polio will take place for three days starting from June 21. This was planned keeping in mind the fact that those infected so far were mostly older than 14 years.

The second round has been set for July 18 to 20 and the third round, scheduled for August 20 to 24 would also include measles vaccination as well as vitamin A supplementation will be for children under the age of five years.

Shangula has said that anyone who experienced polio symptoms should immediately go to their nearest health institution for treatment.


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