Eradicating polio in Africa high on WHO agenda

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

AFRICAN Health Ministers have met on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the World Health Organisation Regional Committee for Africa to devise ways of fighting polio which has re-emerged in some parts of Southern Africa

While the African continent had eradicated polio, the emergence of the virus is proving to be a headache for the continent which is still battling other diseases like COVID-19, cancer, diabetes and monkey pox.

It is against this background that health ministers from Southern Africa and partners held a closed door meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the World Health Organisation Regional Committee to map the way forward.

Zimbabwe was represented by Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care and Director Public Health in the Ministry, Dr Munyaradzi Dhobie.

“We were discussing how to eradicate polio which has  originated in Afghanistan and Pakistan and now we have it in our region. Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique have been affected by Polio, but on our part we are starting on marshal plan to deal with the eradication of polio from the 15th  to the 18th of September .

We will be using the OPV which we have been using all along and so countries have been sharing their experiences on what they are doing and how they are trying to eradicate polio. It is coming at a time when we also are fighting COVID-19 and you also know that we have not yet eradicated the HIV/AIDS where we are trying to reach the 95 95 95 target so we are making sure that we have to completely eradicate the virus, not forgetting  the other pandemics which we still have. We also have to remember we have got the monkey pox which is slowly coming into our region so we want to make sure that we contain it,” said Dr Chiwenga.

As the health meetings continue until Friday, it is expected that member states will discuss and endorse key strategies to strengthen emergency response and launch campaigns on disease prevention.