Nigeria’s polio-free status means more work, says FG

Nigeria’s polio-free status means more work, says FG

Moses Emorinken, Abuja

The Federal Government has said that although Nigeria’s polio-free status calls for celebration, however, more work still needs to be done to ensure that the status is maintained and that no child is ever paralysed by the virus.

The country has left the league of wild polio endemic countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and will hopefully get its certification Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (ARCC), in August this year.

After three decades of tireless efforts to eradicate polio in the country, Nigeria has achieved the historical milestone of being wild polio-free.


Speaking during a zoom celebration meeting with stakeholders, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, on Friday in Abuja, said: “We have now arrived at the point where the ARCC has looked at all of the evidence that we have provided to the World Health Organization (WHO), and they have seen that there is no evidence whatsoever that there is still wild polio virus in circulation anywhere in the country.

“In the last few years, we have been able to pull together documentation that shows that we’ve looked everywhere and we’ve been able to provide enough vaccines to Nigerians and the wild polio viruses are no longer circulating.

“Wild polio-free certification means that there is no wild polio in Nigeria but it does not mean that the work is over. As a matter of fact, even the harder work starts because we have to maintain this wild polio-free status.

“We have to continue giving our kids the vaccinations that they need against wild polio viruses and vaccines against other vaccine-preventable diseases. We are also not forgetting that we still have Afghanistan and Pakistan that are endemic for wild polio viruses; that is, there is still a potential that this virus may be imported into Nigeria because we now live in a global village.

“The next stage is for a formal certificate to be awarded to Mr. President to say we are all cleared and then, we will now look at how we will pull all of the resources – material, human and all of the technical knowledge that we have garnered over the last three decades to now make sure not only do we finish the work of polio eradication but we are also able to harness all of the resources from polio eradication to make sure that we are clear of all vaccine-preventable diseases.

“All of the skills that we have been able to garner from the polio eradication programme is exactly what we used to eradicate Ebola in 2014. These are the same strategies that are being deployed to eradicate COVID-19.”

READ ALSO: WHO declares Nigeria Polio free

He added, “We will continue to carry out limited number of campaigns and doors areas where the routine immunisation is not good enough. We will continue to look everywhere to make sure that there is no child anywhere in Nigeria that is being paralyzed from the wild polio virus.

“The vaccinations are there to protect all Nigerians and what we have seen in the last few years is that the Federal Government has committed more resources towards primary health care and towards immunization specifically.

“President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly have actually committed enough resources to make sure that we are able to buy the vaccines that we need and also the operations that are required to take the vaccines from here in Abuja all the way to the most remote areas.

“Most recent surveys that have been conducted for routine immunisation have seen a steady increase in our coverage. In 2015 we had about 40 percent coverage. By 2018, it had increased to 57 percent and the most recent studies that were conducted in 2019 showed that we are about 67 percent.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his remark said: “We are celebrating the beginning of a celebration of Nigeria being declared polio free by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication. What is next is that we face a new enemy because there is the coronavirus that is out there. After we defeated the poliovirus, coronavirus appeared.

“So, there is no rest time and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency will also be involved in this battle to ensure that Nigerians are kept safe and that other viruses that are threatening the world are as much as possible prevented and curtailed.”

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