The Gambia will launch two massive polio vaccination campaigns to vaccinate about 182,908 children of the age between 0 to 59 months. The precise date of the vaccination campaign has not been released. But the country’s health authorities say they intend to put up an awareness campaign and increase the epidemiological surveillance of poliovirus.
The Gambia declared a “public health emergency” on Wednesday after two poliovirus cases were found in environmental sewage samples.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours. It mainly affects young children.
A new sampling policy was put in place in the Gambia in May, with the support of the World Health Organization.
“Two samples taken from sewers in Banjul and Kotu (a tourist town near Banjul) were positive for the poliovirus,” said Gambia’s Minister of Health, Ahmadou Lamin Samateh.
Although the campaigns’ vaccines will be given to ensure better prevention of the polio disease, Gambians will be encouraged to be much more watchful with personal hygiene to ensure better prevention of the virus.
In that regard, Dr. Buba Majang, Director of Public health service, has told The Chronicle that the government of the Gambia introduced a multi-sectorial program called the water and hygiene sensitization, which ensures to bring a better improvement in the hygiene system of the country.
The water and hygiene sensitization program was implemented in the provinces some years ago. However, the Ministry of Health is lobbying to have it extended to the greater Banjul. “The aim is to eradicate open defecation,” Dr. Buba Majang said.