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South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland Encouraged To Be ‘Vigilant’ In Staying Polio Free

At the 3rd Inter-Country Certification Committee Meeting — where  policymakers and experts from South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, the WHO and UNICEF gathered to address issues surrounding polio — the WHO’s Nicholas Eseko lauded all three countries for becoming and staying polio free, according to BuaNews. He also encouraged them to remain committed to keeping the disease at bay: “Although the number of endemic countries has significantly dropped from 125 to four, some of the previously free countries in our neighbourhood have been re-infected in recent years, therefore posing a very real risk to our children” (Khumalo, 7/27).

“South Africa must remain vigilant about polio as the threat of the virus spreading through its borders still lingered, Deputy Health Minister Molefi Sefularo said” at the conference, SAPA/Times reports. Although South Africa has been polio-free since 1998, Sefularo said the government would continue with national immunization campaigns every three years to highlight the importance of vaccinating all children. The South African government has so far spent about $13 million on polio eradication efforts and 85 percent of the children in the country are immunized by the time they reach the age of one, according to the most recent figures, SAPA/Times reports. Sefularo said, “We must ensure that no child is missed and that routine coverage should be increased and maintained at more than 90 percent” (7/27).

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