Following Nigeria’s attainment of wild poliovirus-free status, the World Health Organization (WHO) would, during a meeting of all the ministers of Health in the African region in August, this year, award a certificate to the country to certify that it is finally free of the virus.
Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who stated this yesterday during a zoom meeting with partners and stakeholders in Abuja, noted that for over three decades, Nigeria has been struggling to eradicate polio, adding that the country has been able to achieve the feat due to support of all the stakeholders.
The WHO organ, Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (ARCC), had on Thursday accepted Nigeria’s wild polio virus-free documentation signifying the country’s hope towards a polio-free country in August.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said having defeated the virus, Nigeria would now face the new enemy, Coronavirus disease, adding that there is no time to rest.
He said: “We are celebrating the beginning of Nigeria finally being declared polio-free by the committee World Health Organization (WHO). Local and international partners, traditional and religious leaders have worked hard to achieve the eradication of the virus from the country. The virus has been defeated and we now have to defeat the Coronavirus”. The NPHCDA boss observed that Nigeria has witnessed a steady increase in vaccine coverage from 40 per cent coverage of routine immunisation in 2015 to 67 per cent last year.Shuaib explained that the ARCC Committee has looked at all the evidence provided by Nigeria to WHO and seen that there was no evidence whatsoever that there is still wild poliovirus circulation anywhere in the country, noting:
“The next stage is for a formal certificate to be awarded to the President and then we will now look at how we can pull all the human and material resources we have amassed over the last three decades to see that we clear off all vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Being wild poliovirus-free doesn’t mean that the work is over because we have to maintain the status by ensuring that we give our children the vaccination they need against the virus and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”
According to him: “We will continue to put in place, strategies to continue to vaccinate children, even in the security-compromised areas, to ensure that no child is paralysed by the wild poliovirus.”