MORE than 5000 children at Five-Mile in Moresby Northeast have received the polio vaccine in the past week as part of the emergency response following the first reported case of polio in a six-year-old boy on September 6.
According to coordinator of the polio emergency operations centre for NCD Dr Morimai Ipai, the child from the Highlands region was still living in the community but was well and healthy.
“There was no history of this child travelling to the polio-affected provinces and the family has been living in Five-Mile for many years.
“Even before the identification of the case in Port Moresby, we have already enhanced our surveillance system to detect suspected cases of polio,” Dr Ipai said.
“The child is still living there because after the child gets infected, there is a high excretion of the viruses in the infected child’s stool (Excreta), however the transmission of the virus reduces as the days go by.”
He said after the initial diagnosis was detected, the transmission reduces to a low level.
“This is why we had to do an emergency vaccination to quickly boost the immunity of the children living in the same community to stop the virus spreading. When this happens, we should break the transmission,” he said.
World Health Organisation representative Dr Anup Gurung said nationally, this vaccination was the third round but in NCD, children would get the first dose of the oral polio vaccine.
“The provinces in the first two rounds of the campaign did well in vaccinating their children. The coverage is quite impressive given the very tight preparation time. I am optimistic we will do as well in NCD,” Dr Gurung said.
He said WHO had deployed more than 70 international experts to support the Government in the response and additional personnel were on their way to the country to support the campaign.
Since the start of the outbreak, WHO has supported the Health Department in establishing emergency operations centres (EOC) to serve as operational hubs for the management of day-to-day response operations.
“We have 18 EOCs set up in provinces and we should be able to have EOCs in all 22 provinces next week. I thank the provincial health authorities and offices on the ground for the commitment,” Dr Gurung said.