25 October 2017

Liberia: Polio Minimized in 2017

The trend of polio in 2017 is said not to be as it has been over the years, but much is still required to completely eradicate the health menace responsible for some of the deformities with children seen across world.

It is against this back civil society organizations in over ten countries continue the 33 Days to Power Up Immunization Campaign, to press for more domestic investments.

They include Concern Health Education Project (Ghana), Muslim Family Counseling Services (Ghana), AFRIVAC (Senegal), Community Restoration Initiative Project (Uganda), Community Health and Research Initiative (Nigeria), Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association (Nigeria), PROVARESSC (Cameroon), and Coalition 15 (Cameroon). Others are KANCO (Kenya), FENOS-CI (Côte d'Ivoire), Public Health Initiative Liberia (Liberia), POSSAV (Guinea), Malawi Health Equity Network (Malawi), Children Advocacy Forum Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone), Confederation of Meningitis Organizations (CoMo), and Niyel.

In order to achieve this feat, a fourteen days into a month long campaign to call attention on immunization, they (CSOs) join global efforts to call for continued vigilance to Polio, routine immunization programs and stronger health systems.

Polio cases have been reduced by 99.9% worldwide since 1988. Fewer than 40 cases worldwide were reported for all of 2016, thanks to the 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine that have been administered since 2000.

"We cannot rest until polio transmission is interrupted and there are zero cases for at least three consecutive years." Says Salisu Musa Muhammad, Deputy Director at Community Health and Research Initiative in Nigeria, sas they have been actively calling the attention of the government performance on budgeting in immunization.

One of three countries still endemic for polio Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, one is in Africa. Although Nigeria has not reported any cases of polio since the August 2016 outbreak, it is possible that the poliovirus is continuing to spread undetected in the Lake Chad region given ongoing inaccessibility, surveillance gaps and a fluid security situation.

To stop the outbreak and respond to the ongoing risk in the area, Nigeria and neighboring countries have implemented large-scale vaccination campaigns.

"Global and national efforts to eradicate polio have been significant and sustained. This is why we are so close." Boubacar Sylla, coordinator of the civil society platform POSSAV in Guinea. "However, today as with the eradication of polio, comes the timely reduction of ressources allicated to polio. Polio ressources has for many countries supported the cost of routine immunization and strenghtened health services. With the ressouces allcated to polio reducing, countries will have to ensure that they increase their support to routine immunisation."

In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, they are largely off track. The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement.

These political committments have to turn into adequate policies as well as concrete budget allocations in order to achieve universal access to immunization. To ensure that this time, countries get or stay on tract, civil society organizatons will continue to track the vaccines, the finances and the legislation.

The 33 days to Power Up Immunization campaign is a continuation of what was started with the Africa Vaccination Week and World Health Assembly.

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