Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Nigeria reclassified polio endemic country

Federal Government, Monday, bemoaned reclassification of Nigeria as polio-endemic nation following recent outbreaks of wild polio virus in the country.

Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole at a media conference to mark this year’s World Polio Day, said though hope of the country to get certification as a polio-free nation from the World Health Organisation next year had been dashed by the fresh outbreaks, the country had put needed measures in place to defeat the disease.

He blamed activities of insurgents, who had held some communities in Borno State and made them inaccessible to vaccinators as reason for the fresh cases.

He, however, noted that the military had been helping health workers in liberated communities in the state to immunise children that could not earlier be reached.

“As at 14th October 2016, the country has detected four cases of the Wild Polio Virus from the security-compromised areas of North-East state of Borno. While this new outbreak is a setback for us, we must take it as a wake up call for us as a government and people to ensure that we all play our part to stop the transmission of the virus in our shores.

“It is pertinent to state that the outbreak is not a failure of the polio eradication programme, but mainly due to the fact that the activities of the insurgents in the North East have resulted in limited access to children for immunisation and, indeed health services, for several years,” he said.

While thanking the military, Adewole said: “Part of the result of the successful military operations is the liberation of many of these communities with consequent enhancement of programme access and our ability to detect these new polio cases.

Beyond enabling our health team access to the communities, the military is also assisting us in our response to this outbreak by providing protection for health workers, supporting movement of materials and personnel as well as providing vaccination services.

Nigeria’s recent immunisation programmes have been done in conjunction with neighbouring countries namely Niger, Cameroun, Chad and Central African Republic, the minister said.

According to him, with support of partners, the country has conducted three outbreak response rounds of polio vaccinations with additional rounds scheduled for next month and December.

“During the September round over 30 million children under the age of five years were vaccinated with oral polio vaccine across 18 states in northern Nigeria. Additionally, we reached over 1.5 million children in Borno State with Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) to rapidly boost population immunity,” the minister said.

He added that government had also intensified surveillance among high risk populations in IDP camps, and partially inaccessible areas including expansion of the reporting network.

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