By Vincess Okushi

An independent Polio Outbreak Response Assessment Team (OBRA) has recommended the closure of the wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) outbreak in Malawi and Mozambique, following a thorough assessment in both countries.

A statement by the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, on Tuesday, 14, May 2024 revealed that the report indicated the giant stride of the Malawi and Mozambique government in the fight against polio in the African region.

The last WPV1 case in the African Region, linked to a strain circulating in Pakistan, was reported in Mozambique´s Tete Province in August 2022.

A total of nine cases were detected in Mozambique and neighboring Malawi, where the outbreak was declared in February 2022. In a coordinated response, more than 50 million children have been vaccinated to date against the virus in 5 countries in southern Africa.

The meticulous evaluation carried out by the OBRA team included two in-depth field reviews and supplementary data review, concluding that there is no evidence of ongoing wild polio transmission. The assessment considered the quality of the outbreak response, including the overall population immunity, supplementary immunization campaigns, routine immunization coverage, surveillance systems, vaccine management practices, and the level of community engagement.

This achievement is a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together with dedication and determination

I commend the governments of Malawi and Mozambique, as well as all those involved in the response, for their tireless efforts to contain the outbreak. It is now imperative that we continue to strengthen our immunization systems, enhance surveillance, and reach every child with life-saving vaccines.

Health experts harp on the pivotal role of enhanced polio surveillance, high-quality community engagement in vaccination campaigns, and timely outbreak response, including rapid deployment of experts and other field responders, to curb the virus.


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