Polio Vaccinations Ramp Up in Southern Africa
During the year since Malawi confirmed its first case of wild poliovirus patient in 30 years, more than 33 million children across five African countries have been vaccinated against the virus.
About 80 million polio vaccine doses have been administered since mid-2022.
A total of nine wild poliovirus cases have been reported, with one in Malawi and eight in neighboring Mozambique, since the declaration of an outbreak in February 2022 in Malawi.
The last confirmed case to date was in August 2022 in Mozambique.
The wild poliovirus in Malawi and Mozambique originated from Pakistan, one of the two last endemic countries.
"Southern Africa countries have made huge efforts to bolster polio detection, curb the spread of the virus and ensure that children live without the risk of infection and lifelong paralysis," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, in a press release on February 17, 2023.
"We continue to support the polio control efforts across the region so that every child receives the protection they need."
And at least five more are planned for 2023 in the five countries.
Polio is highly infectious and affects unimmunized or under-immunized children.
There is no cure for polio, and it can only be prevented by immunization.
Children worldwide remain at risk of wild polio type 1 as long as the virus is not eradicated in the remaining areas where it is still circulating.
There are WHO-approved polio vaccines offered throughout Africa.
These African countries were identified in the U.S. CDC's Global Polio Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions alert issued in January 2023.