It is feared that the contagious polio disease might soon reach Botswana shores by importation due to constant population movements between Angola and Botswana. The recent outbreak of the disease in Angola poses a threat to the polio-free health of residents in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
Polio, which is caused by the polio virus, is easily transmitted from person to person, primarily through eating food and water contaminated with infected human excreta.
According to the Ministry of Health (MoH) a polio victim presents symptoms such as sudden weakness or paralysis of the limbs leading to difficulty in walking, fever, severe headache, stiff neck, deep muscle pain, as well as difficulty in swallowing food or drink.
Children under the age of five are said to be the most vulnerable and, as a measure of possible prevention of the disease, the MoH has decided to carry out polio immunisation of children living in the districts near Angola.
From the 1st to the 3rd of March, Botswana joins Angola, Namibia and Zambia in carrying out the polio immunisation campaign.
The Public Relations Officer at the MoH said that parents and caregivers of children under the age of five are encouraged to ensure that their kids are vaccinated.
“Districts along the Angolan border at high risk include: Okavango, Chobe, Ngami, Gantsi and Charleshill. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that children living in these areas be given at least one round of immunisation,” said the PR office.
The MoH says they are closely monitoring the situation closely. However, in the meantime, they suggest that the public should take a few precautionary measures.
One of the measures recommends that the community should observe good personal hygiene as well as make sure that food is well cooked and eaten while hot. Fruits and vegetables should be washed properly before eating, and human excreta should be disposed of appropriately, including that of infants.
The public should also ensure that the water they drink is either safe or treated.
Visiting affected countries is also being discouraged.