Monday, April 14, 2014

Equatorial Guinea Launches Polio Immunization Campaign

West African Nation works with World Health Organization and Others to Implement Proactive Campaign

The government of Equatorial Guinea has launched a campaign to immunize the nation’s children against polio following some recent outbreaks.

The first case of polio was detected on February 6, 2014 in the district of Niefang, it was an acute flaccid paralysis diagnosed in a two-year old child who was never vaccinated. On March 19, confirmation was received from laboratories in Atlanta (United States) that it is a case of type I poliovirus. Its sequence has shown that it is related to the poliovirus circulating in the central region of Cameroon for the last six months. This is the first case of wild poliovirus reported in Equatorial Guinea since 1999. The vicinity of this country with ours is a threat for Equatoguineans.

The government immediately created a crisis committee to look into solutions to prevent the spread of the disease.

Following the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendation, the government of Equatorial Guinea has launched informational campaigns to educate citizens about the need to take preventive measures against the disease.

On April 21-24, the first phase of the preventive campaign, sponsored by the government of Equatorial Guinea, WHO, UNICEF and others, will treat children ages one to fifteen. A second phase will take place from May 12 to 15 and a third from June 9 to 12, sponsored by the government. Children under five years old will be immunized in these phases. After the three phases are completed, the Ministry expects to have all children vaccinated. This strategy, which was also recommended by the WHO, has already produced good results in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Angola.

The Ministry of Health, led by Diosdado Vicente Nsue Milang, is overseeing the campaign.

Cameroon, the country most affected with three cases of wild poliovirus since the beginning of 2014 and seven since last year, has reported that it will begin the campaign on April 11.

The Ministry also requested the appropriate technical support to implement the campaign, which will be provided by six technical experts from the WHO and a team from the CDC.

The United Nations agencies accredited to Equatorial Guinea praised the government for its prompt reaction to the outbreak and its commitment to prevent further infections. The agencies also provided the organizational support to the campaign.

The crisis committee, which was formed to search for immediate solutions to prevent the spread of polio infection in Equatorial Guinea, included the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; Ministry of Education and Science; Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality; Ministry of Transportation, Technology, Postal Affairs and Telecommunications; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Local Corporations; Ministry of Defense and National Security; Ministry of Information, Press and Radio; the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF).