Africa Regional Polio Certification meeting ends
The five-day Africa Regional Polio Certification Commission (ARCC) Meeting has ended in Accra with calls on member countries to intensify their surveillance systems to rid Africa of polio.
Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, the Chairperson of the Africa Regional Certification Commission, at the closing ceremony on Friday, said the meeting reviewed the complete documentation of two countries; Algeria and Cape Verde, and discussed the progress and situation updates of Ghana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Gabon.
She said the documentations of Algeria and Cape Verde were then accepted by the ARCC, which urged them to implement all the activities and strategies they had stated in their presentations and not to be complacent about their current achievements.
She, however, explained that although the documentations of these two countries had been accepted, the ARCC could call them again to present another complete documentation or a report to ensure that their countries were still polio-free.
Prof. Leke said the remaining five countries who had already maintained their status for at least three more years were also briefed by the ARCC on how they could sustain their surveillance systems and close other challenging gaps.
She said the meeting raised concerns about serious security issues that were impeding the success of polio eradication in some countries such as in the Borno State of Nigeria, leading to the recent reporting of four wild polio virus cases.
The ARCC therefore encouraged all countries with security issues, to double their efforts, and count on the support of the Commission in the maintenance of strong surveillance and the provision of Polio vaccines to address the challenges, she said.
She said challenges including funding gaps, persistent political unrest, lack of ownership of Polio eradication programmes, surveillance gaps, poor data collection issues, as well as low immunisation coverage, were also identified in the various country presentations.
The ARCC in agreement with the WHO recommended a high level of advocacy by respective member countries to address their peculiar challenges.
Dr Badu Sarkodie, the Director of Public Health, thanked the ARCC and WHO for their continuous efforts towards polio eradication in Africa.
He said a lot of efforts had gone into the programme since its inception in 1988 resulting in the counted successes that had been presented by the various countries over the years.
“We cannot afford to lose now,” he said, and called for hard work on the part of all countries to kick polio out of the continent.