Nigeria is behind in polio eradication efforts – WHO


Nigeria remains the only country in the world with increasing cases

Despite the billions of naira spent to eradicate polio in the country, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has insisted that Nigeria is not on track in efforts to eradicate the wild polio virus before the end of December this year.

Speaking on Tuesday during the 24th session of Expert Review Committee Meeting on Polio Eradication, Dr. Bruce Alyward, WHO Assistant Director-General, Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration, said the increasing cases of the virus in the country constitutes “real and growing danger to international public health”.

Alyward, however, noted that the country had the tools and capacity to rapidly reverse the trend.

“Every country is expected to operate in the emergency mode. Congo, India and China have stopped polio in the last three months. Nigeria is the only country in the world that has polio type 1 and type 2 in the last three months,? he said.

“It is also the only country in the world with increasing cases; it is the number that puts the country at risk, not the quality of prevalence.?

He recommended eight major steps for polio eradication in the country, including the implementation of the new house-based micro planning and monitoring method.

Alyward said the new house-based micro plan was initiated in August this year to improve polio immunisation.

Other recommendations are: optimising the emergency surge through cross agency refresher training for all personnel; identifying chronically missed children; establishing true emergency oversight, and having planned programme for insecure areas.

Alyward urged the country to address the chronic surveillance gaps, and called for urgent implementation of environmental surveillance in Maiduguri.

Also speaking, Dr. Mohammed Ado, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said the Federal Government had put in place a new strategy to immunise children in market places.

He said the government had placed order for vaccines ahead of time, to stop delays experienced in routine immunisation. He called on states and local governments to key into the president?s agenda to eradicate polio from the country by December.

Ado said the revised micro plan for polio eradication would fast track efforts to end the virus, but noted that the agency was still having problems in moving vaccines from state capitals to the wards.

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