Rwanda: Only Two Polio Cases Registered in 27 Years

(file photo).
23 October 2020

Rwanda has recorded only two polio cases since 1993, an achievement that can be attributed to the country's commitment toward immunisation and monitoring, Rotarians and medical professionals heard on Friday.

Addressing the group on the occasion to mark World Polio Day on Friday, Dr. Antoine Muyombano, the Rotary Club de Kigali's polio eradication focal person explained that although there are options between oral and injectable vaccines, the former is the most favored because it is cheaper and easier to distribute.

Since 2015, Rwanda has been in a transition phase towards the injectable vaccine.

"Polio vaccination efforts throughout the country must continue, and routine immunization must be strengthened to keep immunity levels high so that wild poliovirus does not return. We also need to protect children against rare occurrences of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus by strengthening our monitoring systems," he said.

This year's celebration has been marked by a historic public health achievement as the World Health Organization's African region was certified wild poliovirus-free on August 25.

Rotary members in Rwanda are using this week to raise awareness, funds, and support to end polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.

Rotary International on its part announced in June last year that it was committing $100 million in grants to support global effort to end polio.

About polio

Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route.

Although approximately 90 percent of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the bloodstream.

In about one percent of cases, the virus enters the central nervous system, infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis. Different types of paralysis may occur, depending on the nerves involved.

Spinal polio is the most common form, characterised by asymmetric paralysis that most often involves the legs. Bulbar polio leads to weakness of muscles innervated by cranial nerves. Bulbospinal polio is a combination of bulbar and spinal paralysis.

Polio was first recognised as a distinct condition by Jakob Heine in 1840. Polio epidemics have crippled thousands of people, mostly young children; the disease has caused paralysis and death for much of human history.

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