Zimbabwe Announces Polio Outbreak

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

An outbreak of the polio virus has been declared by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care, after samples taken from sewage sites in the capital, Harare, and one other province confirmed the presence of a Type 2 polio virus variant. 

Health Ministers from Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia have announced their own cases of polio and are working with Zimbabwe to quell the outbreak.

Sleiman Kwidini, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care has stated that although the presence of the virus in the sewage samples is concerning, a plan to roll out two rounds of vaccinations for children under 10 will begin on the 20th of February to combat the spread of the virus. 

“The detection of these viruses in the environment or in humans constitutes a polio outbreak in the country. While the news is concerning, we as a ministry would like to reassure the public that we have taken swift action to investigate and contain the outbreak to prevent any further spread that may occur.”

According to Kwidini, the polio type detected in the samples likely came from the mutation of the weakened live virus administered in the oral polio vaccine, which then circulated the community. 

However, according to statistics from the World Health Organization, Zimbabwe was declared polio free in 2005 and has a “robust immunization program”, with much of the country vaccinated for the virus.