1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Congo, Republic of

Second phase of immunization under way as polio outbreak kills 200


The number of people killed by an outbreak of wild polio virus in the Republic of Congo has reached 200, officials said, as the second of three rounds of mass vaccination began.

"The first phase was a great success with a coverage rate of 105 percent. This rate reflects the fact that we identified 4,135,000 people and ultimately 4,300,000 people were immunized,” said the Minister of Health and Population, Georges Moyen.

“Since 2 December, the country has more reported cases of deaths from acute flaccid paralysis,” said Moyen, stating that the current balance is of 200 deaths from nearly 480 cases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the second phase of the immunization campaign was aimed at targeting people who missed the first round of the immunization programme from 18-22 November 2010.

"We believe that after the second round of vaccinations, there will be no more new cases," said Gianfranco Rotigliano, regional director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

According to UNICEF and WHO, the outbreak of polio in Congo, considered eradicated for the past 11 years, originated in Angola and is the result of the instability that prevailed during the years of war (between 1992 and 2000), resulting in the disruption of the health system.

“Immunization campaigns have three phases because it takes at least three doses to be protected against polio. The impact of those three campaigns will be assessed to determine if more activities might be needed,” Oliver Rosenbauer of WHO told IRIN.

“The third round of vaccination in Congo Brazzaville will take place in late December,” said Rosenbauer.

In addition to the three-phase outbreak response in Congo Brazzaville, synchronized measures are being taken in border areas of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, targeting respectively 1.5 million and 1.46 million people.

“Certainly countries across central Africa right now should do more sensitive disease surveillance, so that they could rapidly detect an eventual polio case and also boost population immunity, in order to minimize the consequences should they become re-infected,” Rosenbauer told IRIN.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.