Africa Vaccination Week (24 – 30 April)

Swaziland joined the rest of the African region in commemorating the 2016 African Vaccination Week (AVW), bringing 27 years of being Polio free on its cards.

The AVW, which runs alongside the World Immunization Week, is one of the opportunities to strengthen immunization and give services through partnership, advocacy, communication and education. It is commemorated from April 24-30 and this year’s campaign focused on Polio eradication. This theme for the AVW 2016 was: “Close the Immunization Gap. Stay Polio Free!” and the slogan was “Vaccinated Communities; Healthy Communities”.

Only two countries in the world (Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic. In Swaziland, the last polio case was clinically diagnosed and reported in 1989 (27 years ago). WHO EPI Officer Lonkululeko Khumalo emphasised that detection of wild polio virus in a polio-free country is a public health emergency.  “It is against this background that the World Health Organization supported the country to develop an outbreak preparedness and response plan. This plan provides guidance in case of an importation of WPV or detection of WPV case in order to maintain the polio free status,” she said.

The country also conducted a seminar on Polio and among the speakers was polio Ambassador Ntobeko Nkambule (last polio case in Swaziland), from Mankayane. Nkambule who is a teacher by profession stated that polio is real and stressed that it is important that children are vaccinated against the disease. He further took a pledge to take responsibility to advocate and sensitise the community on immunization to achieve the desired goal of polio eradication.

EEPI and WHO staff posing with Polio Ambassador Ntobeko Nkambule after the Polio seminar at Happy Valley Hotel. ©WHO Swaziland/2016
WHO EPI Officer Lonkululeko Khumalo being interviewed by Swazi TV journalists during the Polio Seminar. ©WHO Swaziland/2016
Polio Ambassador Ntobeko Nkambule. ©WHO Swaziland/2016