By Stuart Bogere Oswald
KIU, Main Campus - The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of polio virus in the country.
In a statement released by Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services, “The virus sequencing test done in South Africa on the two samples showed that the confirmed circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus is linked to a circulating cVDPV2 lineage in Sudan. The results confirmed a circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus Type 2 in Uganda.”
The ministry attributes the resurgence of polio to reduced immunization rates in the country due to COVID-19 and importation of the virus due to constant cross-border movement involving countries currently affected by polio.
“While mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery of essential health services including routine immunization have been affected considerably, which implies fewer numbers of children were immunized against the vaccine-preventable diseases. This slowdown has led to a resurgence of polio globally, including Uganda,” Mwebesa said.
Uganda was declared free of all polio viruses in 2006 but, Mwebesa noted, has been under threat of importations of the virus from other countries where polio is endemic.
According to Mwebesa, more than 19 African countries have declared cVDPV2 outbreaks in the last 12 months, and among them the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and South Sudan - three countries which border Uganda.