Several countries in Africa are dealing with new polio outbreaks, despite having made strides against the crippling disease in the past.
African nations are working together to support child immunization and polio outbreak response. A forum in Dakar, Senegal, on Dec. 10 brought together African heads of state to address the alarming declines in immunization rates and the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases.
The forum took place one day after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a $10 million donation to help fight polio and tetanus in several African countries, among other areas of the world.
Elder Alfred Kyungu, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Africa West Area presidency, attended the forum on behalf of the Church.
A Church donation of $5 million went to UNICEF in support of efforts to eliminate tetanus. Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a significant public health problem throughout areas of Africa, the Middle East, and central and southeastern Asia.
The other $5 million went to Rotary International to fight polio. This portion of the Church’s grant will help African countries regain progress lost to COVID-19 in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
At the Senegal forum, leaders spoke together about how best to invest in innovation, commit to implementing lessons learned over the years and work together to prioritize eradicating polio and other childhood diseases, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom.
The president of the Economic Community of West African States and the president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, thanked all the partners who are making it possible to eradicate polio in Africa.
“However, we still face logistical constraints in transporting vaccines and maintaining their efficiency. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, philanthropies, and civil society organizations — I believe together we can eradicate polio in Africa,” he said.
The leaders spoke about how children — who are the future of Africa — need good health. The president of Senegal and chairman of the African Union, Macky Sall, also called on heads of state, workers, civil society and other partners to work together.
“We need to save our children’s lives, and especially our women who are the most vulnerable. Our systems are fragile, therefore, as partners, we need to mobilize from all fronts to deal with this menace,” he said.
The acting director of Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouna, said a new public health order in Africa and the help of global partners means “Africa can invest in innovation, commit to implementing the lessons learned over the years and work together to prioritize efforts toward eradicating the deadly disease.”
On the day of the donation, Elder Kyungu expressed gratitude on behalf of the Church to those working to help children and families in Africa.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cares deeply about the impact polio has on children,” Elder Kyungu said.