Over 700,000 children in Kagera to get polio vaccine

AS the country launched its third round polio vaccination campaign countrywide yesterday, Kagera Region targets to reach 712,000 under five children by administering the oral drop vaccine to the group through door-to-door drive.

Kagera Regional Immunisation and Vaccination Officer (RIVO), Mr Zablon Segeyu noted that the campaign will cover under five children in eight councils of Muleba, Bukoba DC, Biharamulo, Ngara, Bukoba MC, Karagwe, Kyerwa and Missenyi.

“All the necessary logistics have been completed. Vaccination teams have been dispatched to the eight councils.  The door – to- door  exercise will start  tomorrow   (yesterday) and will be closely monitored to ensure that no child is left unvaccinated,” he said, adding that last year about 637,702 children under the age of five years received  polio jabs.

Mr Segeyu, however, said that, the region has also managed to reduce Malaria prevalence from 41 per cent recorded during 2015/2016 financial year to 15.6 per cent last year, while the national average stood at 7.3 per cent.

He attributed the good performance to Indoor residual spraying of households with insecticide and the use of treated mosquito nets which to-date has reached almost 92 per cent.

Until September 30th last  year,  at least 1,281,568 treated mosquito nets   were already distributed to  various  vulnerable groups  including expectant mothers  (499,338 nets),  under-five children (429,998 nets) and school  pupils (352,832 nets), he said.

“Tanzania is among the countries which will provide additional vaccinations to children under the age of five following an outbreak of a wild poliovirus in neighbouring Malawi. The World Health Organization (WHO) has put Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia on high alert “We need to make sure that communities and families are well informed to save the children,” he said.

Data indicate that one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa do not live to their fifth birthday-even though child mortality fell by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2012, he said.

Polio or poliomyelitis is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. It is a viral disease transmitted through contaminated food, water or faeces. In its severest form, it attacks the nervous system leading to paralysis, he said.

Elaborating, he said there is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines, which given multiple times can protect a child for life.  Eradicating polio required immunising every child until transmission stops and the world is free of all forms of poliovirus, Mr Segeyu remarked.

In 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)-of which WHO is a founding member- set out to eradicate polio in 125 countries by mid 2005. The mission required mass vaccination, reaching every child.

At that stage, it was estimated that 350,000 children around the world were paralysed by polio each year.

Global Health and Poverty Reduction Discourses have recognized immunization as one of the most affordable and effective means of reducing child mortality, and in a broader sense, as an essential contribution to poverty reduction efforts.

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