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Health Ministry confirms Polio Virus in Sierra Leone

HomeHealthHealth Ministry confirms Polio Virus in Sierra Leone

Health Ministry confirms Polio Virus in Sierra Leone

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The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Public Health Agency at a Press Release dated 8th March, 2024 has confirmed a case of Polio Virus in Kambia, Northern Sierra Leone.

The case was confirmed at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa after prompt testing was conducted at the Institute Pasteur in Abidjan. “Fortunately, testing confirmed it was not a case of wild polio vaccine, but vaccine derived which is a rare occurrence”, the Release states.

The vaccine derived polio virus is not as violent as the wild polio virus, but can quickly transmit from person-to-person, especially in communities with under immunized children and can mutate to form the virulent form of the virus, causing serious health impact on its host.

The release further states that Sierra Leones health authorities are actively collaborating with neighboring countries on cross-border surveillance as well as public education about polio and vaccination and implementing a robust response plan.

Health authorities further urged everyone, especially parents/caregivers of children under-fives to receive the recommended vaccinations at the right schedule, including Polio.

The public recall that in August 2020, Sierra Leone joined other countries in the world to celebrate strategic landmark public health achievement in Africa as the continent was certified    by the World Health Organization, to be free of the wild poliovirus, a virus that causes Poliomyelitis and permanent paralysis in children under-fives.

Polio disease is highly debilitating and paralyzes its victims for life with resultant lifelong challenges and the inability to attain life’s full potentials. Severe forms of the disease can lead to death. Vaccination is the safest means of prevention against the disease.

The last case of wild poliovirus in Africa was reported from Nigeria in 2016. Since then, no new case of the disease has been reported in the region.

Sierra Leone has made great progress in fighting polio. The country reported its last confirmed case of wild polio virus in 2010 and has since built improved national structures, tools and capacity to strengthen surveillance of the disease including at community levels.

The Sierra Leone government’s commitment has been strong as demonstrated by the establishment of robust national disease surveillance system, and strategic leadership of the Ministry of Health in organizing national and subnational polio immunization campaigns and routine immunization services, some of which were synchronized with other sister countries in the region and supported by development partners.

 

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