After more than two years without wild polio virus in Nigeria, two fresh infections have emerged in Borno state, threatening Nigeria’s progress toward a polio free status.
The Minister of health Isaac Adewole, made this known today in a press release made available to MAPNews.
The outbreak has affected two children from Gwoza and Jere Local Government Areas (LGA) of the State.
Nigeria was due to be declared polio free by the World Health Organization if it made it to July 24 next year without a new case. The last known infection was July 2014.
The Minister said the detection of children paralyzed by polio shows that surveillance has increased with more access but it is a reminder that the country needs to remain vigilant and immunize all eligible children with oral polio vaccine until polio is completely eradicated worldwide.
“Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease. The discovery and confirmation of the outbreak was as a result of strengthened surveillance due to improved accessibility which has been made possible by the recent military action in liberating more communities in the North-Eastern part of the country”, he said.
The statement mentioned that the Minister has directed the deployment of a national emergency response team, comprising government and partners to Borno State for immediate and robust polio vaccination campaign, targeting eligible children to prevent the spread of the virus locally and internationally.
It says The Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
“As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunized in four local government areas in Borno State.
Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunized bringing the number to about five million in the four states”, it says
Prof. Adewole reiterates the Federal Government’s commitment to achieving a polio-free Nigeria and assures the general public that this outbreak will be controlled as soon as possible adding that government will provide the needed resources to contain it.
He called on other states and local governments to redouble their efforts by safeguarding their territories from importation of the virus by providing the required leadership and ensuring accountability among healthcare workers and other stakeholders.
Another statement by WHO states that Nigerian Government is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to respond urgently and prevent more children from being paralyzed.
“These steps include conducting large-scale immunization campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help catch the virus early. These activities are also being strengthened in neighboring countries.
“We are deeply saddened by the news that two Nigerian children have been paralyzed by polio. The Government has made significant strides to stop this paralyzing disease in recent years. The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunize all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
It would be recalled that in 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, but the country has made significant strides in recent years, going two years without a single case.
This progress has been as a result of concerted efforts by all level of government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders as well as dedicated health workers.