Hurungwe targets 130k for polio vaccination

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Writes Nhau Mangirazi
Hurungwe district is bracing up for polio vaccination targeting 130,000 children under ten years of age following a new threat in this age group.
The vaccination programme kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday) and till Friday when 200 teams will be deployed around Hurungwe within Mashonaland West province.
Hurungwe district medical officer, Dr. Munyaradzi Wilberforce Chidaushe, told stakeholders during a meeting on Friday that the new poliovirus must be attended to as a matter of urgency.
‘‘There is another form of polio known as Circulating Vaccine Derived Poliovirus (cVDVPs) that can be spread within communities. They are rare infections. However, they have been increasing due to low immunization rates within communities. It is the one we are now trying to contain as Hurungwe district and the nation at large. We call upon our stakeholders to keep the awareness campaigns so that every child is vaccinated against the virus,’’ he said.
Dr. Chidaushe explained that three isolated cases in Harare and one in Sanyati within Mashonaland West district were detected on the latest poliovirus infection.
He added that globally the virus was detected in New York, United States of America.
‘‘Polio has no boundaries but can be prevented through vaccinations that must carried out on time, especially to the targeted age groups. We aim to vaccinate children under ten years with two doses – one in February and the other in March that cater for the new virus so that all people in Zimbabwe remain safe from polio.
‘‘We are carrying out a campaign to make sure that every child is vaccinated as the new virus is more severe to those children that have not been vaccinated of late,’’ he added.
Polio is mainly caused by poor water and sanitation in communities.
Hurungwe district health promotions officer, Komberero Gotosa, appealed to all stakeholders to help spread the word so that the target of over 95 percent is achieved.
‘‘We are grateful that Hurungwe has done enough in terms of meeting targets. Round 4 had a remarkable 104 percent achieved last year and we hope this time we do better.
‘‘We may face challenges such as human resources to cover our district terrain but our stakeholders have been supportive,’’ said Gotosa.
He added that they will target schools, marketplaces, rural villages, and public transporters during the four-day program.
Hurungwe assistant district development coordinator, Witness Kufa, said traditional and community leaders will play their role in educating the ordinary populace to embrace the vaccination program.
‘‘We have to help the children who are our future. We will engage all leaders at the grassroots level so that every child is vaccinated,’’ said Kufa.
Stakeholders including officials from ministries of education, social welfare, public works, and women’s affairs attended the meeting.
The national vaccination program is being supported by the World Health Organisation with many local implementing partners.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the worst-hit  polio countries globally.