How COVID19 Pandemic Fueled Polio Surge In Uganda

Dr Henry G. Mwebesa Dr Henry G. Mwebesa INTERNET PHOTO

The polio outbreak in Uganda announced by the ministry of health on Tuesday has partly been facilitated by the COVID19 pandemic which forced the government to implement two total lockdowns.

And because of the lockdowns and curfew, many parents couldn't access immunization centres leaving many children unvaccinated for polio.

"While mitigating the COVID19 pandemic, delivery of essential health services including routine immunization have been affected considerably, which implies few numbers of children were immunized against the vaccine-preventable disease,” Dr Henry G. Mwebesa, director general health services said in a press release on Tuesday.

He added: “This slowdown has led to the resurgence of polio globally, including Uganda,"    

The ministry added that 'incessant cross-border movements among our neighboring countries and the countries from the Horn of Africa region currently affected by cVDPV2 (Circulating Vaccine Derived Poliovirus) outbreaks pose a risk of further polio-importations to the country.'

In response to the polio outbreak, the ministry of health has heightened surveillance of polio in the country by intensifying the search for polio cases in all health facilities by reporting and investigation of all children under fifteen years with sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in the arms or legs and expansion of environmental surveillance.

The ministry will also conduct a nationwide polio immunization campaign in October and December 2021 during which health workers will visit house-to-house and vaccinate all children aged 5 years or below against polio.

"All health workers participating in the campaign will wear masks and strictly observe the COVID19 SOPs to ensure children are safely vaccinated,” Dr. Mwebesa explained.

Polio is a viral disease that is transmitted from person to person, mainly through a faecal-oral route or, less frequently, through contaminated water or food, and multiples inside the intestines.

In Uganda, the ministry revealed that they declared polio a public health emergency after confirmation of positive laboratory tests from environmental samples in Kampala.

The ministry said samples were collected from the sewage plants in Bugolobi and Lubigi which are two of the sentinel environmental surveillances sites in Kampala.

Results from the tests carried out at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed a circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus type.

The virus detected has a genetic linkage with a cVDPV2 strain reported in Sudan.

Last modified onThursday, 19 August 2021 15:23

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