SADC states launch polio vaccinations nationwide

19May 2022
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
SADC states launch polio vaccinations nationwide

​​​​​​​TANZANIA yesterday joined the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in launching nationwide polio vaccination, with parents and guardians urged to bring out children aged less than five years to ensure they are vaccinated.

The compulsory door to door vaccination exercise targets an estimated 10.3m under-fives in all regions, with Health minister Ummy Mwalimu saying at the launching ceremony here yesterday that the disease is a menace to children and could not be ignored.

The last case of polio reported in the country was in 1996 but polio being reported in neighbouring countries put Tanzania at high risk, she stated, recalling that apart from the late February case in Malawi, in 2020 the disease was reported elsewhere in the continent.

In Malawi it was a three-year-old girl child who was reported to be affected by the virus.

The minister emphasized that parents and guardians must prepare their under-five children for polio vaccination in health centres or during house to house administration of vaccine pills.

 Vaccinated children will be marked as well as their homes for the subsequent verification exercise to find out the number of those reached, and if any were skipped, she said, explaining the vaccine rollout for a few days, taking up from an earlier roll out for Mbeya, Njombe, Songwe and Ruvuma regions.

Dr Jeme Bisimba, a consultant with the Health Doctor-Support Partners, applauded government efforts in improving health services and control mechanisms against disease outbreaks, working with stakeholders and partners in combating polio. The NGO will extend support to the campaign, to help ensure Tanzania is free of polio, official said.

 Dodoma Regional Commissioner Anthony Mtaka had earlier said the region expected to conduct the exercise in 822 villages where 47, 9159 children aged between 0-56 days are targeted for inoculation.

The region has received 351, 000 doses of the vaccine and set up 1151 centres for the purpose, appealing to parents to cooperate in the free vaccination to protect young children.

Stanslaus Nyongo, chairman of the social and community development committee of the legislature, thanked the government for the effort, as it will help to ensure the country is free from polio.

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