- The confirmation of four new cases of polio in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has brought the total number of cases to 27 this year.
In the neighbouring Angola, advance notification of two new polio cases was received, bringing the total number of cases in that country this year to eight. The cases have been reported in Luanda and Benguele provinces.
An Indian origin poliovirus re-infected Angola in 2005 before it subsequently spread to DRC the following year.
Health officials of the two countries have been involved in synchronised cross-border responses to eradicate or minimise the spread of polio.
While Angola launched a national major supplementary immunization activities, DRC limited immunization to its affected regions of Equateur and Bandundu provinces where efforts have been made to immunise eight million children below five years.
Between 2000 and 2003, polio immunisation was limited to only 50% of the targeted Congolese children mainly because of the war.
Following the return of peace and stability, 79% of the targeted children were vaccinated during last year's national immunization days in September.
The country is expected to embark on additional immunization campaigns later in the year.
Also, health experts from Namibia, Angola and DRC have been collaborating to contain polio through cross-border meetings.
Representatives of the three countries some time back met in the Namibian capital Windhoek to deliberate and share experiences on synchronizing the forthcoming national immunization days.
"It is gratifying to note that all of us are fully committed to the polio eradication drive. This intensified eradication effort, coupled with improved access to routine immunization, is critical to stopping the epidemic,” the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Health and Social Services in Namibia, Simwanza Simenda, said.
Namibian health authorities were taken aback when the first case of wild poliovirus was reported last year. This number continued to rise, bring the total to 20 in last July last year. These confirmed cases formed part of the 300 cases of acute flaccid paralysis recorded last year alone.
The outbreak had claimed 32 lives in Namibian, which raised fear among people.
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