Polio tends to circulate among the least immunized populations, prompting the WHO to publicize the largest vaccination campaign against the disease in children under 5 years of age in Africa.
Cameroon, Chad and Niger launched a campaign on Friday to immunize 21 million children under the age of 5 against polio, in the largest vaccination campaign against polio in Africa since 2020, the WHO announced on Friday.
The campaign will also extend “next week” to the Central African Republic, where they have been detected so far. seven cases of type 2 poliovirus this year, added the WHO.
“The timing of this campaign will ensure that a large number of children in all four countries receive the vaccine at the same time, which improve immunity against polio in a vast geographical area”, said the director of that UN agency for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, in a statement.
The regional director stressed that it is a Opportunity to “close the vaccination gaps” created by the Covid-19 pandemic, when restrictions prevented many children from accessing those vaccines.
In fact, the Lake Chad region, where three of the four countries where the immunization campaign is taking place are located, is one of the places with the highest percentage of children who have not received any type of vaccine, according to the WHO.
Although all four countries are free of indigenous wild poliovirus, type 2 poliovirus is circulating, the most prevalent form of polio in Africa, it still persists, with more than 400 cases detected in 14 countries of the continent last year.
Since the beginning of 2023, it has been detected in Nigeria and six cases have been confirmed in Chad, in addition to the seven infections in the Central African Republic, according to the WHO.
Polio can circulate among underimmunized populations, so detecting outbreaks and launching vaccination campaigns is essential to contain them.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that has no cure and whose symptoms include fever, fatigue, vomiting and headaches and, in some cases, can cause paralysis of the extremities.