Nigeria Records 120 New Cases Of Environmental Polio

 

One year after Nigeria was certified wild poliovirus free by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country is again hit by environmental polio.

The Country Representative of UNICEF, Peter Hawkins, disclosed that 120 new cases of the virus have been recorded across the country.

He stated this on Monday at the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Committee meeting in Abuja, where he challenged the monarchs on the need to strengthen routine immunisation in their domain.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, explained how the government was responding to the situation.

File photo of some children with polio cases in Nigeria.

 

He allayed the fear that the latest development would affect Nigeria’s polio position, saying it poses no threat to the country’s wild polio free status.

Shuaib, however, stressed the need for an integrated vaccination programme to effectively manage diseases outbreaks in the country.

Vaccine-derived polio, which is also called environmental polio, is a strain of poliovirus caused by the lack of routine immunisation.

It spreads more easily among unvaccinated children and is capable of causing severe illness, including paralysis.

Routine immunisation is one major means of reducing fatalities from killer diseases such as polio and cholera. This necessitated the need of the government to seek the support of the traditional rulers.

WHO Declares Philippines Polio-Free After Vaccine Campaign

 

 

The Philippines is once again polio-free, the World Health Organization said Friday, after a successful vaccination campaign that has raised hopes for Covid-19 inoculations in a country plagued by mistrust of jabs.

Polio re-emerged in the country in 2019, nearly two decades after its last cases were detected, sparking a nationwide effort to immunise millions of children against the crippling disease.

At least 17 people were infected, but health authorities said they have not detected the virus in a child or the environment in the past 16 months.

“We are celebrating freedom from polio,” said Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative in the Philippines.

More than 80 percent of unvaccinated children were immunised in the nationwide effort, which Abeyasinghe said was “adequate to interrupt the transmission”.

The 2019 outbreak began shortly after deadly dengue fever and measles epidemics and as vaccination coverage plunged partly due to the botched rollout of a dengue shot a few years earlier.

Polio is highly infectious and can lead to paralysis and even death. There is no known cure.

The virus that re-emerged in the Philippines had genetically mutated from a weakened strain of wild polio that is contained in the oral vaccine used all over the world to control the disease.

Philippine health officials hope the success of the polio vaccination effort will be replicated in its rollout of Covid-19 jabs.

Only around 1.6 million people — or just over one percent of the population — have been fully vaccinated against the disease. The glacial pace has been blamed on supply shortages and safety fears.

“We have numerous surveys indicating that vaccine confidence is low, but this (polio) campaign has proven otherwise,” Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said.

“Hopefully these kinds of activities and these kinds of efforts will be paralleled and patterned when we do our Covid-19 vaccinations and when supplies are ready.”

Rep Member Says PTF Should Handle COVID-19 Fight Same Way As Polio

 

The Chairman, House Committee on Health, Honourable Tanko Sununu, has advised the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to employ the same strategies used in fighting polio in the country, to also fight the Coronavirus.

Speaking about the government’s reaction to the second wave of the virus on Channels TV’s Politics Today, Sununu noted that while certain steps need to be taken, he would not advise for a second lockdown.

According to him, rather than putting an absolute lockdown that will affect the economy and then came with an aftermath just like it was in the first lockdown, the government should try to see how they can engage stakeholders just like it did when Nigeria was battling with the poliovirus.

Read Also: 20 Doctors Contract COVID-19 In Kwara Within Three Weeks

“If you look at it, Nigerians are always in denial, when government and heads of organisations said there was polio, people tried to say no and it became a serious issue.

“What did government do? It resorted to creating communities headed by traditional rulers, religious organisations, preaching and preaching to people until they realised and accepted it as a reality that it is not something we are trying to do something to their health.

“Now, today we are proud to say we have eradicated polio in the country and that former set up is still there.

“I think the PTF should just reactivate the avenue that was used by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to achieve the eradication of polio, to strengthen the fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Sununu also highlighted some of the progress made by the government in its fight against COVID-19.

According to him, the country only started with four laboratories but now there are “over 100 laboratories distributed nation-wide that can effectively diagnose COVID-19”.

“Not only that, when we came, we had very few isolation centres and ICU’s in the country. As of today, government and non-governmental organisations came together and we can now say we have multiple isolation centres that are functional”.

WHO Asks FG To Maintain Border Surveillance Over Polio

This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(File Photo) The World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The World Health Organisation has asked the Federal Government to maintain border surveillance to prevent any possible outbreak of polio in the country.

The WHO representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo stated this in Maiduguri after meeting the last surviving polio case in Africa.

He also called for the proper immunisation of all children, seen to be very vulnerable.

According to Mulombo, the surveillance effort is to keep immunisation coverage high enough to protect all children against the poliovirus.

“This is to keep the immunization coverage high enough to protect all the children; until such a time that the global eradication is achieved.

“Modu was hit with polio on August 6, 2016, and was notified and investigated within a week by health workers,” he said.

Modu Busami is a six-year-old child who did not have access to vaccination and had battled the disease since 2016 when he took ill before being diagnosed.

READ ALSO: Secondary Schools In Akwa Ibom To Resume September 28

The activities of Boko Haram abductions have deprived children access to anti-polio and other killer disease vaccine.

Polio-Free

On August 25, the Africa Regional Certification Commission declared Nigeria and the rest of Africa polio-free.

WHO said this marks the eradication of a second virus from the face of the continent since smallpox 40 years ago.

The organisation commended donors and health workers for saving the lives of children who have been suffering from the disease.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities, up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis,” the WHO said in a statement.

Also, in a videoconference, the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commended philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and others for their numerous contributions

Poliomyelitis, or “wild polio” is an acutely infectious and contagious disease that attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

It was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa.

As late as 1988, the WHO counted 350,000 cases globally, and in 1996 said there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

Thanks to a rare instance of collective global effort and financial backing — some $19 billion over 30 years — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases this year: 87 in total.

US Congratulates Nigeria On Polio-Free Status, Calls For Routine Immunisation

(File Photo) The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

 

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for attaining a wild poliovirus-free status.

The US envoy noted that the feat was achieved after years of joint efforts to remove Nigeria from the list of wild polio-endemic countries.

“We are proud of our partnership with Nigeria and cherish the cooperation that ensures the country has the technical expertise and resources required for success,” the ambassador was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Friday. “No country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Backs ECOWAS 12-Month Ultimatum For Transition To Civilian Rule In Mali

While reiterating the commitment of the US to continue its partnership with the Federal Government, Leonard called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to build on its successes in fighting polio, including strengthening routine immunization, and improving the health of children and their families.

She however warned that a resurgence of polio can still occur despite the certification by the World Health Organisation.

The diplomat said she is confident that Nigeria has the strategies in place to ensure the gains made in the polio eradication efforts are not lost and that the momentum achieved in achieving this certification continues.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE

PRESS RELEASE                         August 28, 2020

For Immediate Release                                                      PR-0XX/2020

U.S. Congratulates Nigeria on Wild Polio-free Status,

Calls for Vigilance and Improved Routine Immunization

Abuja – U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for attaining a wild poliovirus-free status after years of joint efforts to qualify Nigeria to be removed from the list of wild polio endemic countries.

“We are proud of our partnership with Nigeria and cherish the cooperation that ensures the country has the technical expertise and resources required for success,” the Ambassador said at an August 24 Town Hall meeting with Embassy staff and polio eradication stakeholders.  “No country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.”

She added that the United States stands ready to continue its partnership with Nigeria as it consolidates and builds upon its successes in fighting polio, including strengthening routine immunization, and improving the health of children and their families.

The certification comes after four years without any reported cases of polio in Nigeria and following an in-depth review and acceptance of the country’s certification documentation.

Ambassador Leonard said she is confident that Nigeria has strategies in place to ensure the gains made in the polio eradication efforts are not lost and that the momentum achieved in achieving this certification continues. Despite the certification, a resurgence of polio can still occur.

It is therefore critical that the country’s disease surveillance system is sensitive enough to quickly detect and respond to diseases.

Ambassador Leonard recognized the role of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) at the forefront of partnering with the people of Nigeria toward polio eradication efforts in the country.

Since 2012, the CDC and USAID have invested approximately $150 million and $70 million, respectively, toward Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts.  The agencies work in Nigeria at the state and local levels to strengthen surveillance, polio campaigns, polio outbreak response efforts, and routine immunization.

Implementing partners include:  the African Field Epidemiology Network, Core Group Partners Program, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, and Word Health Organization.

What Nigeria Is Doing To Stay Polio-Free – Health Minister

 

 

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday, said strategies are already in place to ensure the country stays polio-free.

Nigeria, along with the rest of Africa, was declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation on Tuesday, marking the eradication of a second virus from the continent, since smallpox 40 years ago.

“The chances of a resurgence are chances that we can control if we build up our routine immunisation, which we intend to do,” Ehanire said.

“We are now at about 70 per cent. We know that the remaining 30 per cent is more difficult. So we are developing strategies to expand the coverage up to 90 per cent.

“The difficult areas will be hard-to-reach areas and areas that you will likely not find transport. So we have acquired motorcycles that will be able to carry vaccinators all the way to what we call the ‘last mile’.”

The health minister added that the primary healthcare structure is being expanded to provide services such as routine immunisation.

“And if we have a platform of functional primary healthcare centres, routine immunisation, well established and the surveillance principle is set up – we are carrying out very strict acute flaccid paralysis surveillance – then we should have control of the polio eradication and be able to maintain it.”

 

Historic Day

“Today is a historic day for Africa,” said Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, whose commission certified that no polio cases had occurred on the continent for the past four years, the threshold for eradication.

Since 1996, eradication efforts “have prevented up to 1.8 million children from crippling life-long paralysis and saved approximately 180,000 lives,” the UN agency said.

Poliomyelitis — the medical term for polio — is an acutely infectious and contagious virus which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

 In this file photo taken on April 22, 2017 A Health worker administers a vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign against polio at Hotoro-Kudu, Nassarawa district of Kano in northwest Nigeria. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 22, 2017 A Health worker administers a vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign against polio at Hotoro-Kudu, Nassarawa district of Kano in northwest Nigeria. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

It was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa.

In 1988, when the WHO, UNICEF and Rotary launched the worldwide campaign to eradicate the disease, there were 350,000 cases globally. In 1996, there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

Thanks to a global effort and financial backing — some $19 billion over 30 years — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases this year: 87 in total.

Jihadist attacks

Poliovirus is typically spread in the faeces of an infected person and is picked up through contaminated water or food.

Vaccinating people to prevent them from becoming infected thus breaks the cycle of transmission and eventually eradicates the virus in the wild.

The last case of polio in Africa was detected in 2016 in Nigeria, where vaccination had been violently opposed by jihadists who claimed it was a plot to sterilise Muslims.

More than 20 workers involved in the campaign lost their lives.

A health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination door-to-door campaign in Lahore on August 16, 2020. Arif ALI / AFP
A health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination door-to-door campaign in Lahore on August 16, 2020. Arif ALI / AFP

 

“This is a momentous milestone for Africa. Now future generations of African children can live free of wild polio,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

“This historic achievement was only possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of governments, communities, global polio eradication partners and philanthropists,” Moeti said.

“I pay special tribute to the frontline health workers and vaccinators, some of whom lost their lives, for this noble cause.”

The declaration, made at a ministerial-level virtual conference on health issues in Africa, coincided with an announcement in Democratic Republic of Congo that a 25-month epidemic of measles that killed more than 7,000 children was now over, thanks to a massive immunisation effort.

Togo, meanwhile, said it had become the first African country to stop transmission of human African trypanosomiasis — the insect-borne disease known as sleeping sickness.

Joy in Nigeria

Health workers in Nigeria were jubilant at the polio announcement.

“Happiness is an understatement. We’ve been on this marathon for over 30 years,” said Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian doctor and local anti-polio coordinator for Rotary International.

“It’s a real achievement, I feel joy and relief at the same time.”

Nigeria, a country with 200 million inhabitants, was still among the polio trouble-spots in the early 2000s.

In its northern Muslim-majority areas, authorities were forced to stop vaccination campaigns in 2003 and 2004 by Islamic extremists.

It took a huge effort in tandem with traditional chiefs and religious leaders to convince populations that the vaccine was safe.

“People trust their local traditional leaders who live with them more than the political leaders,” said Grema Mundube, a community leader in the town of Monguno, in the far north of Nigeria.

“Once we spoke to them and they saw us immunising our children they gradually accepted the vaccine,” he told AFP.

However, the emergence of violent Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009 caused another rupture in the programme. In 2016, four new cases were discovered in Borno state in the northeast in the heart of the conflict.

“At the time, we couldn’t reach two-thirds of the children of Borno state — 400,000 children couldn’t access the vaccine,” said Dr Funsho.

In “partially accessible” areas, vaccination teams worked under the protection of the Nigerian army and local self-defence militias.

For areas fully controlled by the jihadists, the WHO and its partners sought to intercept people coming in and out along market and transport routes in a bid to spread medical information and recruit “health informants” who could tell them about any polio cases.

Today, it is estimated that only 30,000 children are still “inaccessible”, but this number is considered too low by scientists to allow for an epidemic to break out.

The next step is to ensure that Africa is shielded from any polio cases from Pakistan or Afghanistan and continue vaccinations of children to ensure that communities are safe.

‘A Glorious Day For Nigeria’, FG Lauds Polio Eradication Certification

A file photo of the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, at a press conference in Abuja. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal Government has lauded the historic certification of Nigeria and Africa as a polio-free country and continent, respectively.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government welcomed the development as “a glorious day for Nigeria” and fulfilment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise.

It noted that the President had given the assurance that his administration would provide the necessary resources to strengthen the health system, routine immunisation, and ensure the country was certified polio-free.

Reacting to the feat recorded, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, described it as the fulfilment of President Buhari’s promise and the resilient spirit of Nigerians, especially frontline health workers who gave Nigeria the pride of place in the comity of nations.

“It is indeed one of the greatest dividends of the present administration,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by Mohammad Ohitoto who is the Head of Public Relations Unit at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

The Executive Director and Chief Executive of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, could not agree less with the minister on polio eradication in Nigeria.

“It is one classical example of human resilience, wherein the face of adversity, in spite of numerous setbacks, over the course of almost three decades, Nigerians came together, relentlessly worked hard with our donors and development partners to eradicate polio,” he stated.

Polio, Cross River
A file photo of a child with a deformed leg.

 

The NPHCDA boss added that the history of polio eradication in Nigeria was evidence of how the health system could work collaboratively with the community and religious leaders to eradicate any disease.

He stressed that the use of the polio eradication strategy contributed immensely to the rapid control of the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.

Shuaib, who coordinated the Ebola outbreak response, revealed that the lessons learned from the success of polio eradication “is exactly what we’re using with the COVID-19 outbreak response.”

He said the recent feat did not come easy as it has been a long and arduous journey, with great efforts and investment from the government, donors, as well as local and international partners.

The NPHCDA boss listed them to include Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, WHO, Unicef, CDC, USAID, Gavi, EU, Global Affairs Canada, DFID, World Bank, JICA, KfW, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, to mention a few.

He pointed out that the major problem the programme faced was insecurity, saying it affected the effort at achieving polio eradication.

Shuaib, however, believes the polio programme was able to surmount this problem and others through the establishment of the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication, the Polio Emergency Operation Centers (EOC), the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio Eradication led by the Sultan of Sokoto, among others.

He attributed the achievement to the leadership provided by President Buhari, Ehanire, traditional and religious leaders, local and international partners, all health workers, and the Nigerian populace.

The NPHCDA also dedicated the certification to the memory of all those who lost their lives in the cause of polio eradication, describing them as Polio Heroes.

Africa To Be Declared Polio-Free

Polio Vaccination

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to certify on Tuesday that the African continent is free from wild polio, four years after the last cases appeared in northeastern Nigeria.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities, up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis,” the WHO said in a statement.

The official announcement is due at 1500 GMT in a videoconference with WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and key figures including philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

“Happiness is an understatement. We’ve been on this marathon for over 30 years,” said Tunji Funsho, a Nigerian doctor and local anti-polio coordinator for Rotary International.

He said it marked a crucial step in the total eradication of the illness at the global level.

“It’s a real achievement, I feel joy and relief at the same time,” he added.

Poliomyelitis, or “wild polio” is an acutely infectious and contagious disease which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

It was endemic around the world until a vaccine was found in the 1950s, though this remained out of reach for many poorer countries in Asia and Africa.

As late as 1988, the WHO counted 350,000 cases globally, and in 1996 said there were more than 70,000 cases in Africa alone.

Thanks to a rare instance of collective global effort and financial backing — some $19 billion over 30 years — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases this year: 87 in total.

– Trust –
Nigeria, a country with 200 million inhabitants, was still among the trouble-spots in the early 2000s.

In its northern Muslim-majority areas, authorities were forced to stop vaccination campaigns in 2003 and 2004 by Islamic extremists who claimed it was a vast conspiracy to sterilise young Muslims.

It took a huge effort in tandem with traditional chiefs and religious leaders to convince populations that the vaccine was safe.

“People trust their local traditional leaders who live with them more than the political leaders,” said Grema Mundube, a community leader in the town of Monguno, in the far north of Nigeria.

“Once we spoke to them and they saw us immunising our children they gradually accepted the vaccine,” he told AFP.

However, the emergence of violent Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009 caused another rupture in the programme. In 2016, four new cases were discovered in Borno state in the northeast in the heart of the conflict.

“At the time, we couldn’t reach two-thirds of the children of Borno state — 400,000 children couldn’t access the vaccine,” said Dr Funsho.

– Inaccessible children –
The security situation remains highly volatile in the region, with the jihadists of Boko Haram and a local Islamic State affiliate controlling vast areas around Lake Chad and the border with Niger.

“International agencies, local governments, donors — all partners took the bull by the horns to find new strategies to manage to reach these children,” said Dr Musa Idowu Audu, coordinator for the WHO in Borno.

In these “partially accessible” areas, vaccination teams worked under the protection of the Nigerian army and local self-defence militias.

For areas fully controlled by the jihadists, the WHO and its partners sought to intercept people coming in and out along market and transport routes in a bid to spread medical information and recruit “health informants” who could tell them about any polio cases.

“We built a pact of trust with these populations, for instance by giving them free medical supplies,” said Dr Audu.

Today, it is estimated that only 30,000 children are still “inaccessible”: a number considered too low by scientists to allow for an epidemic to break out.

Despite the “extreme happiness and pride” felt by Dr Audu, he never fails to remember the 20 or more medical staff and volunteers killed for the cause in northeast Nigeria in recent years.

The challenge now is to ensure that no new polio cases arrive from Afghanistan or Pakistan and that vaccinations continue to ensure that children across the continent are protected from this vicious disease.

“Before we couldn’t sleep at all. Now we will sleep with one eye open,” said Dr Funsho.

We Can Defeat COVID-19 Like Polio, Says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is optimistic that African countries will defeat the COVID-19 pandemic the same way polio was eradicated.

The President’s comment comes a few hours after the Africa Regional Certification Commission declared Nigeria and the rest of Africa polio-free.

President Muhammadu Buhari participates at the virtual session of the 70th World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Africa

 

President Buhari while speaking on Tuesday at the formal certification of the Wild Polio Virus eradication in the African region, during the virtual session of the 70th World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Africa, said that the certification is a fulfillment to Nigerians and Africans.

He said, ‘‘I recall that shortly after assuming office in May 2015, I made a pledge to Nigerians that I would not bequeath a polio-endemic country to my successor.

‘‘This certification is, therefore, personal fulfillment of that pledge to not only Nigerians but to all Africans”.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President assured the global community that Nigeria will sustain the momentum and leverage on the lessons learnt from polio eradication to strengthen her health system, especially primary health care, and prioritize health security.

 

Read Full Statement Below:

 

LIKE POLIO, WE CAN DEFEAT COVID-19, PRESIDENT BUHARI DECLARES, LAUDS ALIKO DANGOTE, BILL GATES, EMEKA OFFOR, OTHERS

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja expressed optimism that African countries can defeat the coronavirus pandemic, in the same manner, it eradicated the Wild Polio Virus on the continent.

President Buhari spoke at the formal certification of the Wild Polio Virus eradication in the African region during the virtual session of the 70th World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Africa.

‘‘I recall that shortly after assuming office in May 2015, I made a pledge to Nigerians that I would not bequeath a polio-endemic country to my successor.

‘‘This certification is, therefore, personal fulfillment of that pledge to not only Nigerians, but to all Africans.

‘‘At a time when the global community is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, this achievement strengthens my conviction that with the requisite political will, investments and strategies, as well as citizens’ commitment, we will flatten the epidemic curve.

‘‘I can affirm the commitment of all African leaders to this course of action,’’ the President said in his remarks celebrating the historic feat.

The President assured the global community that Nigeria will sustain the momentum and leverage on the lessons learnt from polio eradication to strengthen her health system, especially primary health care, and prioritize health security.

He said Nigeria used data systems, community engagement and innovative technology to monitor and predict the occurrence of polio outbreaks, adding that these same skills and tools are being used to fight COVID-19 and the multi-country outbreaks of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses.

President Buhari, who described the achievement as a truly historic moment, commended President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Chairman of the African Union, under whose leadership, Africa crossed the finishing line.

He recounted that the journey to eradicate the virus dates back to 1996, when Nelson Mandela of blessed memory launched the Kick Polio out of Africa campaign.

The Nigerian leader also used the occasion to congratulate Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and the WHO Regional Committee for Africa on their untiring efforts, contributions and leadership towards polio eradication in Africa.

‘‘We must guard this achievement of the eradication of Wild Polio Virus in Africa jealously and ensure that we take all necessary steps to prevent a resurgence of this dreaded disease.

‘‘This will require maintaining the highest quality of surveillance and sustaining population immunity through increasing routine immunization coverage and supplemental immunization activities.

‘‘It is heartwarming to note how the strong partnership between the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Governments of African countries worked tirelessly and collaboratively to deliver this success,’’ he said.

The President further commended the decades of hard work and resilience of health workers and volunteers across the region, Ministers of Health and other stakeholders such as political, traditional, religious and community leaders who provided the required support and leadership.

‘‘I would also like to appreciate the invaluable support of our donors, development and local partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, GAVI, USAID, European Union, Emeka Offor Foundation, the Japanese and German Governments, numerous NGOs and faith-based organizations.

‘‘These are truly the heroes and heroines of many battles that have made us triumphant in the war against polio,’’ he said.

Stressing the need to sustain vaccination of children in Africa, the President urged African governments to continue investments in the health sector because ‘‘healthy populations create wealthy nations.’’

‘‘We must continue to build trust between Government institutions, leaders and citizens, so that we can unite as a people and confront the health and socio-economic challenges we face together,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Chairman, Aliko Dangote Foundation and Africa’s foremost philanthropist, Aliko Dangote urged governments across Africa to increase their budget allocations to the healthcare sector, to help ensure improved basic healthcare for the people.

Dangote expressed deep satisfaction at the final eradication of wild polio in Nigeria, and by extension Africa after years of hard work and collaboration among stakeholders.

Dangote, who played a major role through his Foundation in the eradication of Polio in Nigeria, said, “I want to commend our African leaders, especially my own President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria for his leadership. All levels of government have successfully come together to make this day possible.”

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

August 25, 2020

Nigeria Moves Closer To Attaining Polio-Free Status

A photo of health experts at a virtual meeting of African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) on June 18, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

Nigeria is closer to being declared free of wild polio after completing the documentation for free status.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria announced the progress made by the nation via its verified Twitter handle on Thursday.

It described the development as historic for Nigeria, the African continent, and the Global Polio Programme in general.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) confirmed the success recorded.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said in a tweet that it was a proud moment for the people of Nigeria when they defended the complete documentation at a virtual meeting of African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC).

Shuaib explained that at the meeting, the Nigeria team which comprised the NPHCDA and partners demonstrated evidence of the country’s polio-free status.

According to him, the presentation was accepted by the commission and the official announcement will be made at a meeting of Ministers of Health scheduled for July.

The NPHCDA boss commended the efforts of those he described as heroes who sacrificed their time and lives for the success recorded.

He also acknowledged the leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders at different levels, as well as the support from various groups which he said motivated the frontline workers.

Shuaib specifically thanked Mr Aliko Dangote and Mr Bill Gates for their financial and technological contributions towards ensuring that Nigeria attains the polio-free status.

Read his tweets below:

Immunisation: NMA Warns Against Politicisation Of Health Issues

NMA

Medical Practitioners in Edo State have appealed to Nigerians not to politicise health issues in view of its attendant effect on the populace.

The Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, Edo Chapter, Emmanuel Osaigbovo, made the appeal on Tuesday while speaking at the 2017 Physicians’ Week in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

Osaigbovo decried the effect of the rumours making the rounds on the social media that the military are allegedly infecting people with diseases in the guise of immunisation.

“Immunisation is not something bad, it’s actually good. Please, we should not politicise immunisation, because immunisation helps us to prevent childhood illnesses, for instance like polio, diphtheria, measles,” he said.

“So, if they now bring politics into it, it’s going to affect our health indices. Our childhood mortality rate is very high, Nigeria is one of the worst in the world.”

The rumour mills especially the social media platforms have been awash with stories of some sinister plans allegedly by the military to infect children with diseases through immunisation.

Although the claims have been refuted by the Federal government and military authorities, they created fear, leading some parents to reject vaccination while some others had pulled their kids out of schools in Ondo and Rivers last week as a result.

“The way I heard the rumours the other day, it’s very unfair. They said twenty-something children died the other day because of immunisation. So, me, I’m afraid,” a woman said.

“For now, I’m not sure I will immunise my baby, after all, I can do it maybe by next year not this year, I can’t try it.”

Doctors are not pleased with the development and as they celebrate the physicians’ week they called on parents to do the right thing for their children by ensuring they are immunised.

“The women refused for them for them to examine the children or do anything with the children. They refused, they said they don’t trust anybody,” Professor Vivian Omuemu said during her lecture on declining immunisation coverage.

“So, it’s going to be a problem. We need to do some targeted social mobilisation to educate people and dispel this rumours.”

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr David Osifo, hopes the rumours will not lead to a rise in preventable diseases.

He said, “We have not been able to confirm any of these rumours. They are just rumours and we have been trying our best to convince our people that this is not true.

“Like you heard in this delivery just now, with this kind of rumours going round the rate immunisation is going to drop. And we are just praying that our children will not be coming down with immunisation preventable diseases because this rumour is doing a lot of damage.”

Dr Osifo urged the people to ignore the rumours and take advantage of the health programmes of the government to keep their children free of preventable diseases.

Polio Eradication: Sultan Pledges Support For Health Agencies

Governor bello, Sultan
Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, says he is committed to working with health agencies across the country to eradicate polio and other childhood killer diseases in Nigeria.

He was speaking during the flag off of the sub-national immunisation plus days organised by the Sokoto State Primary Health Care Development Agency in Sokoto.

The Sultan appealed to the people to accept the vaccines, and the routine immunisation programme so that they can effectively fight polio and other child-killer diseases like measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, among others.

READ ALSO: Sokoto Govt Vaccinates 1.8 Million Children Against Polio