Kampala 27 July 2018:- In response to allegations made in the UN Reporter concerning the spread of Vaccine Derived Polio Outbreak in Congo to Uganda, The Ministry of Health and The WHO Country Office in Uganda would like to point out the following:
1. There hasn’t been a wild polio case in Uganda since November 2010.
2. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo has reported cases of Vaccine Derived Polio outbreak close to the border with Uganda.
3. Like any polio-free country, Uganda maintains a high routine immunization and sensitive surveillance against importations and against vaccine-derived virus until polio is completely eradicated.
4. Vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) are rare but well-documented strains of poliovirus. VDPVs are strains of poliovirus which emerge after prolonged multiplication of attenuated strains of the virus contained in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the guts of children with immunodeficiency or in populations with very low immunity. After prolonged multiplication, this vaccine virus derived strain changes and reverts to a form that can cause paralysis in humans. Some VDPVs have shown a capacity for sustained circulation in communities if the population immunity against polio is low in that community. Low coverage of polio vaccine under routine immunization is the single most important factor that leads to the emergence of VDPVs.
5. OPV is extremely safe and effective at protecting children against lifelong polio paralysis. OPV has been the vaccine of choice for over 195 countries, Uganda inclusive, that have successfully eradicated polio. It remains the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's (GPEI) recommended vaccine of choice to finish global eradication. More than 10 billion doses of OPV have been given to more than two billion children in the past ten years.
6. As part of the polio endgame strategy, countries around the world, including Uganda switched from trivalent to bivalent OPV, which reduces the risk of VDPV and introduced at least one dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in the routine immunization programme
7. Polio eradication can be achieved with continued global commitment and support from all country Governments.
For more information please contact:
Vivian Serwanjja, Public Relations Officer- Ministry of Health – Email: vivianserwanjja [at] gmail.com, Tel: 0772979033
Mwebembezi Edmond, Public Information Officer- WHO-Country Office, Uganda Email: Mwebembezie [at] who.int, Tel: 0786-497073