Nigeria Needs Two More Years to Be Certified Polio Free – WHO | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria Needs Two More Years to Be Certified Polio Free – WHO

Posted: Oct 2, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oladele Ogunsola


The declaration of Nigeria as being removed from the list of polio-endemic countries notwithstanding, it has been said that the country would need another two years of interruption of wild polio virus transmission before the country could be certified polio-free and eradicated.

It would be recalled that the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday announced that polio was no longer endemic in Nigeria, when it said, “all laboratory data confirmed that 12 months have passed without any new case of polio in the country”.

Yet, it was the same WHO in an earlier report which had said that as recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide.

World Health Organization (WHO) National Director, Polio Laboratory, University of Ibadan,   Johnson Adeniji, who said that for the first time, Nigeria has been able to interrupt the transmission of wild polio virus, “if you can interrupt polio transmission for one year, you will be removed from the list of endemic countries, but, that is not to say that we have eradicated polio. For you to eradicate polio you must maintain that free status for three solid years.

“So, now we still have 24 months to be under observation, so we still need to continue to work. People should take seriously the issue of polio eradication very well such that we will be able to sing the song that Nigeria is polio free”, he said.

Another expert, Bamidele Iwalokun, Head, Molecular Biology and

Bio-technology Division, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research

(NIMR), Yaba, Lagos tasked stakeholders not to rest on their oars yet as he called for continued vigilance, saying, that stakeholders must harmonise immunisation goals for effective vaccine delivery across the country.

According to him, “information and surveillance are key factors in identifying areas with low immunisation coverage and what it means is that in two years’ time, if there is no polio cases in Nigeria, the country will now be totally polio eradicated like small pox in the 1980s.

“We are no longer spreading polio now, we need to sustain the engines that drive the public health, in as much as we are improving the attitudes of care-givers through ducation and political engagement, our health system also needs to be strengthened.

“The interaction between a care-giver and an immunisation health worker should be cordial in such a way that the confidence will improve about the vaccine.

“Then once and for all the government should tackle the Boko Haram, the militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan is majorly responsible for why they are still endemic for polio. We are winning the battle of Boko Haram; we should win that battle as soon as possible so that we will be able to reap more benefits in terms of improving immunization coverage for other vaccines. So that in the nearest future, Nigeria will not only be polio eradicated but measles eradicated”, the expert maintained.