ON 24 July 2014, for the first time ever, Nigeria interrupted the transmission of the wild polio virus, leading to its removal by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from the list of countries where the disease is endemic. On 24 July 2016, Nigeria reached a landmark of two years without a single case of wild polio virus infection. Polio, a highly infectious disorder suffered by children is transmitted from person-to-person through food or water from where it enters the body system, breaking it down, resulting in paralysis. Nigeria has been chasing the eradication of polio for at least two decades, hence, its feat put the world on track to ensure it is eradicated like smallpox. Africa and the rest of the World applauded the feat and anticipated that by July 2017, the WHO would officially certify Nigeria and the entire West African region polio free. All that the nation needed to do was to maintain its zero-case status, strengthen its surveillance system, improve routine immunisation and maintain high quality campaigns. But the unfortunate reappearance of the wild polio virus in two children in Borno State has become a major setback to the global polio eradication drive. It is obvious that the insurgency in that region and the mass displacement of people played a crucial role in reversing the progress because medical personnel on vaccination missions were targeted and killed by Boko Haram. This has dashed the hopes of global health authorities to declare the continent polio-free in the near future. With this development, Nigeria has become the last country harbouring the wild polio virus in Africa, which is one of the last two continents (the other is Asia) yet to be certified polio free. The last thing needed in the fight is complacency. Nigeria’s polio eradication drive requires unwavering diligence and absolute care in ensuring that every last child is reached with the oral polio vaccine. Nigeria defeated polio before. It can, and must, do it again. The attention and commitment focused on the funding of public health programmes at national level should be extended to the states. The same innovative strategies that enabled the country to immunise millions of children even in hard-to-reach and insecure areas, should be reactivated and immediately deployed. The innovative engagement and partnerships with the WHO, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the thousands of volunteers that made it possible for the country to win the first round of the fight against polio must be resumed. More efforts should be put in ending the Boko Haram insurgency and resettle displaced persons to ensure the success of renewed efforts to kick out polio – for the last time – from Nigeria.
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Return of the wild polio virus
by Ogundokun Ayobami , at 09:29 , have 0 comments