Cameroon: Polio Prevention Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation: MDRCM023

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GENEVA, Switzerland, —A. Situation analysis Description of the disasterThe Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) prescribes 3 strategies to eradicate polio; namely 1) strengthening routine immunization; 2) epidemiological surveillance; and 3) supplementary preventive or response immunization activities. As part of this initiative, Cameroon has been implementing the 3 strategies, which have enabled the country to remain polio-free from July 2014 to date.

Two (2) cases of type 1 wild poliovirus (WPV) were confirmed in the Borno State of neighboring Nigeria on 11 August 2016. Nigeria registered a third case of wild poliovirus on 5 September 2016, also in Borno State, leading to fears of a resurgence of the disease in this region affected by insecurity. This virus had been circulating in Northern Nigeria for more than 5 years without being detected. Polio resurgence in this area, a part of the greater Lake Chad basin, poses a big threat to the polio eradication end game strategy. Cameroon shares a long border with Nigeria, and there is intensive movement of populations between the 2 countries along the borders. Nigerian nomadic populations and about 72,000 Nigerian refugees fleeing conflict are found in Far North region of Cameroon, most of them from the Borno State where the polio outbreak was registered.

The confirmation of the 3 cases of WPV was announced at a time when the risk of a polio outbreak was increasing progressively in Cameroon due to insufficient collective immunization of children against poliomyelitis, particularly in hard to reach areas such as isles, or places affected by ongoing security issues due to conflict. WHO and other observers have declared that the risk of importation of the poliovirus from Nigeria to Cameroon is very high. The risk is also high to detect an endogenous case that might have been circulating undetected since 2014. Since then, epidemiological surveillance, particularly in the far North region of Cameroon, has never been complete. The Cameroon Government decided to launch a series of 5 preventive immunization campaigns scheduled as follows:

  1. From 26 to 28 August 2016 (already done)
  2. From 17 to 19 September 2016 (already done)
  3. From 8 to 10 October 2016
  4. From 12 to 15 November 2016
  5. From 03 to 05 December 2016

The first 2 campaigns have already complete, but Cameroon Red Cross has been requested by the government to provide additional support to assist in the remaining 3 campaigns with support from this DREF allocation.
The results from the first 2 rounds of vaccinations seem to yield generally positive results in terms of reach, as shown below. However, the figures are may not show the full picture of coverage considering the insecurity and limited access to vital information on the population and its continued movement.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com