Today the national taskforce for poliovirus containment in the laboratory met as part of the country’s efforts to maintain its polio free status. The committee members discussed findings from a field mission reviewing all biomedical laboratories for possible wild poliovirus infectious material while encouraging the destruction of all unneeded materials. The Ministry aims to strengthen its surveillance system by developing an inventory of all laboratories that retain material which may have potential infectious material. Collaboration with private practitioners and laboratories is a key component in this intervention to ensure that all bio safety levels are adhered to.
This is all part of the country’s comprehensive plan to maintain the standards for polio surveillance as recommended by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Within the same response plan, the ministry with the support from WHO has been conducting integrated active-case search in regions. The latest was in the southern part of the country in Hardap region from 9-13 October 2017. Hardap would be the 11th region that the team visited this year and aim to complete the remaining 3 regions before end of the year.
During the active-case search, health facilities are required to report and investigate all acute flaccid paralysis cases following WHO standards to rule out any possibility of poliomyelitis. The team visited different public health facilities and private hospitals in the region.
The support visits included integrated disease surveillance, active case search, monitoring immunization coverage and data quality review. Clinician sensitization meetings are also held to ensure maximum participation of public and private health practitioners.
Ms. De Wee, WHO Namibia EPI Officer says that ‘Private sector collaboration in general is good and they express their appreciation for being invited to the sensitization meetings’.
Namibia has been polio free since October 2008 and the government has been actively complying with global recommended actions to maintain this status.