Transmission of Imported Wild Poliovirus Outbreak Halted in Southern Africa


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter.

Southern Africa map

Southern Africa map



Wednesday, MAY 15, 2024. An independent polio Outbreak Response Assessment Team (OBRA) has declared the imported wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) outbreak in Malawi and Mozambique over. 


The eradication marks a major win against the crippling disease in Africa as the last WPV1 case in the region, linked to a strain circulating in Pakistan, was reported in Mozambique in August 2022, after which over 50 million children were vaccinated across five countries.


"This achievement is a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti of WHO Africa, praising the tireless efforts of governments, health workers and communities.


The success relied on coordinated vaccination campaigns, robust surveillance and community engagement. The regional director for eastern and southern Africa, Etleva Kadilli said, "The official closure is due to unfaltering determination and collaboration.” Kadilli further praised frontline workers for "reaching every last child."


"Malawi, Mozambique and the entire region are setting the example for urgently improving campaigns and surveillance," said Dr. Chris Elias of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Commitments like these will help us achieve a polio-free world."


Experts emphasized the pivotal roles of timely response, high-quality engagement and sustained immunization efforts in controlling outbreaks. As Dr. Moeti stated, "It is imperative we continue strengthening systems to reach every child."


Efforts to enhance polio surveillance included micro-planning, mapping cross-border routes and synchronizing campaigns regionally. New wastewater testing sites also enhanced detection while geographic mapping improved coverage in remote areas.


This victory shows what global cooperation and perseverance can accomplish against formidable health challenges. However, the fight is not over until polio is eradicated everywhere, therefore continued investments and commitment from all stakeholders remain crucial to achieving a polio-free world.


Source: World Health Organization Newsroom.



Published: May 15, 2024

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