As Nigeria is officially delisted from polio–endemic nations, President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the commitment of his administration to fully operate the National Health Bill.
This was contained in a press release signed by Ayo Adesugba, director of Press and Public Relations, and sent to Nigerian Pilot yesterday.
According to the statement, Buhari made this known at the State House yesterday when he received the formal letter delisting Nigeria from polio-endemic countries from the director-general of the World Health Organisation, WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan.
Dr. Chan was represented by WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti.
President Buhari noted that the National Health Act had made provision for universal access to basic healthcare with a focus on the poor and vulnerable.
He described Nigeria’s delisting from polio endemic countries as an “epoch making event” and pledged that Nigeria would not be complacent but rather, would sustain its gains by improving and strengthening health surveillance systems.
He added that polio would continue to be seen as a health emergency “until we are declared polio-free in the next two years.”
Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute noted that the president’s gesture of administering the oral polio vaccine to his grandchild significantly boosted vaccine acceptance in communities, describing it as a clear instance of “leadership by example.”
Executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Muhammad present at the occasion highlighted the nation’s polio eradication efforts in a presentation.
According to Mohammad, the areas of focus for sustaining the gains include improving routine immunisation coordination; timely outbreak response and preparedness; ensuring children in security compromised areas are consistently reached for immunisation, strengthening the health system, as well as closing surveillance and funding gaps.
In her remarks, Dr Moeti emphasised that routine immunisation should be used as an entry point for strengthening health systems in the country, as it would not only sustain the polio gains but was also important for protecting against other vaccine preventable diseases.
Moeti noted that in spite of the gains in containing polio and significant improvement in immunisation, Nigeria is one of the four highest burdened countries for Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs, such as river blindness, intestinal worms, blinding trachoma and leprosy.
She disclosed that given the huge burden of NTDs, international pharmaceutical donors had pledged to supply medicines in the quantities needed to reach individuals who are affected by NTDs.
The WHO regional director pledged the support of the organisation and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative towards certification of polio eradication in Africa by 2017.

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