Angola

Angola steps up immunization drive in its efforts to eradicate polio

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Angola/2011
Minister of Health José Vieira Dias Van-Dunem shows a polio vaccine monitor to Angolan Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos. In 2010, Angola registered 33 polio cases.

SAURIMO, Angola, 28 March 2011 – It’s not every day that your child gets vaccinated by your country’s vice president. That was the fate of Isabel Zita Motinha last Friday morning.

She had brought her child, Edson, to be immunized at Kakolo municipal hospital, and has just been told Vice President of the Republic of Angola Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos would administer the vaccine.

“Today is very a happy day for me and my child,” said Ms. Motinha. “I will meet the vice president and he will give to my baby two drops of polio vaccine.”

Campaign launch

During his official visit to the eastern province of Lunda Sul, Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos launched the first of three rounds of a national polio immunization campaign planned for 2011. The aim is to vaccinate all children under the age of five against polio, to lower transmission rates in the country.

In 2010, Angola registered 33 new polio cases, with the eastern provinces of Lunda Sul and Lunda Norte accounting for more than 30 per cent of them.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Angola/2011
Isabel Zita Motinha waits for her child, Edson, to be immunized by Angolan Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos at a hospital in Kakolo, Angola.

Indices of rejection were particularly high in these provinces. Now, thanks to strengthened partnerships with traditional leaders and healers, as well as with local churches, the last sub-national immunization round held last month has already led to a coverage rate of 96 per cent in the area, up from 69 per cent last August.

“The involvement of the vice president demonstrates the political commitment of the Government of Angola towards polio eradication,” said Minister of Health José Vieira Dias Van-Dunem. “The whole society has been mobilized in order to reach every last child.”

Polio resurgence

Immunization remains the only proven way to stop polio transmission, which is why improving coverage is at the heart of national and global strategies. A lack of access to safe water and good sanitation is a major concern in Angola. Both have contributed to an increasing prevalence of polio and other diseases, including cholera.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Angola/2011
Angolan Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos is helping kickstart a national immunization campaign by vaccinating children at a hospital in Kakolo, Angola.

After almost becoming polio-free with no new cases for three consecutive years, Angola has been battling the virus again since 2005. The country has one of the highest rates of prevalence in Africa, with polio cases now having spread across the border into the DR Congo, Namibia and Burundi.

Five-year plan

The Government of Angola, in partnership with the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee, developed a five-year immunization plan in 2009. The campaign’s strategy targets at least 5.6 million children under the age of five during each round of vaccinations.

To accelerate the pace of eradication of polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan 2010-2012 has given Angola the milestone of interrupting polio transmission by the end of June 2011.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF are supporting the Government of Angola in these endeavours, by providing financial and technical assistance in vaccine procurement, capacity building, epidemiologic surveillance and social mobilization.


 

 

New enhanced search