African CSOs seek domestic investment into routine polio immunisatkion

Immunisation 1

African Civil Society Organisations in over ten countries call for greater domestic investment into routine polio immunisation programs

Polio vaccination in South Sudan, 2014 (Flickr/UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

Polio vaccination in South Sudan, 2014 (Flickr/UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

African CSOs seek domestic investment into routine polio immunisation

Civil Society Organisations in 11 African countries have called for joint efforts for continued vigilance to polio, routine immunisation programme and stronger health systems.

They made the call as the year 2017 has seen the lowest case count of polio in recorded history, just as they believed, “the job is not done yet”.

They made the call, near 14 days into the one-month-long campaign to call attention for continued vigilance to stronger health systems.

The countries include Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, Chad, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Guinea, Malawi, Siera Leone and Liberia.

Polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 per cent worldwide since 1988.

Fewer than 40 cases worldwide were reported for all of 2016, thanks to the 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine that have been administered since 2000.

“We cannot rest until polio transmission is interrupted and there are zero cases for at least three consecutive years,” says Salisu Musa Muhammad, Deputy Director at the Community Health and Research Initiative in Nigeria.

“We have been actively calling the attention of the government performance on budgeting in immunisation.

Of the three countries still endemic for polio, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, one is in Africa.

Although Nigeria has not reported any cases of polio since the August 2016 outbreak, it is possible that the poliovirus is continuing to spread undetected in the Lake Chad region given ongoing inaccessibility, surveillance gaps and a fluid security situation.

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To stop the outbreak and respond to the ongoing risk in the area, Nigeria and neighbouring countries have implemented large-scale vaccination campaigns.

“Global and national efforts to eradicate polio have been significant and sustained. This is why we are so close,” says Boubacar Sylla, coordinator of the civil society platform POSSAV in Guinea.

“However, today as with the eradication of polio, comes the timely reduction of resources allocated to polio.

“Polio resources have for many countries supported the cost of routine immunisation and strengthen health services.

“With the resources allocated to polio reducing, countries will have to ensure that they increase their support to routine immunisation.”

In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunisation (ADI), through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, they are largely off track.

The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement.

These political commitments have to turn into adequate policies as well as concrete budget allocations in order to achieve universal access to immunisation.

To ensure that this time, countries get or stay on track, civil society organisations will continue to track the vaccines, the finances and the legislation.

The 33 days, to Power Up Immunisation campaign, is a continuation of what was started with the Africa Vaccination Week and World Health Assembly.

By Oluwashina Iyanda

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