Measles, Polio on high increase in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe is currently on polio and measles alert following the detection of the vaccine preventable diseases in neighbouring countries, with the World Health Organization projecting possible outbreaks if measures are not taken to speed up vaccination.

The WHO has said in a bid to prevent renewed spread in Africa, almost 70 000 vaccinators will go door-to-door in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, to give all children under 5 the oral polio vaccine in a US$15.7 million campaign funded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The organisation said many children right now are being left without protection against measles and other vaccine preventable diseases due to Covid-19 induced service delivery disruptions, resulting in increased outbreaks.

In 2020, 23 million children missed out on all basic childhood vaccines. That’s the highest number seen since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019.

In an interview yesterday, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said:

“We know that polio was eradicated in Africa but recently a case was recorded from Malawi so we are on the alert on that as we know we may be affected if action is not taken. We would like to encourage parents and guardians to take children for vaccination. On top of Covid-19, we continue to vaccinate children against all those viral infections and we are committed as Government to ensure no child is left behind.

“We need to keep ourselves safe from spreading these infections. If a child gets sick or is feeling unwell let’s rush to health institutions as soon as possible and keep them in a clean environment. As Government, we are on the lookout for those signs and symptoms for those two diseases.”