UNICEF deploys 510 volunteers to combat polio in Northern states

Channels Television  
Updated April 23, 2012

As part of the National Polio Eradication Emergency scheme, the United Nation’s Children Fund, UNICEF, has trained and deployed 510 Volunteer Community Mobilisers to Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto states.

According to UNICEF in a statement, “there are a total of 957 volunteer community mobilisers (557 in Kano, 200 in Kebbi and 200 in Sokoto)and they would be fully operational by the end of April 2012.”

“With the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this initiative will contribute to reducing the percentage of missed children through targeted interventions house-to-house to generate demand for and acceptance of oral polio vaccine…this initiative will be expanded to Zamfara, Jigawa and Borno by June 2012, and Katsina and Yobe by August 2012 ,depending on funds availability.” the agency also said.

UNICEF further disclosed that 2,150 settlement level volunteer mobilisers in total, will be recruited, trained and deployed in the settlements where missed children and refusals to oral polio vaccine are still persistent.

Nigeria is one of four countries in the world – along with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan – where polio is still a major health risk.  In November 25, 2011, Nigeria recorded 43 cases of wild poliovirus compared to 14 cases in the same time period in 2010. In the first nine months of 2011, the country reported more cases than in the whole of 2010.

Also, Nigeria remains the only polio-endemic country in Africa. The first case of wild poliovirus (WPV3) in 2012 in the country was reported on 14th January, 2012 from Sokoto State.