President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to eradicate polio in Nigeria by 2017, even as the country marked two years of polio-free last Sunday.
Buhari, who is the leader of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication, said, “This is a historic moment that has brought Africa and the world to the closest it has ever been to eradicating this devastating disease. But our job is not yet done. We must protect the gains we have made and stay on course to tackle the challenges that remain in eliminating polio for good.
The president stressed that the Federal Government will continue to provide the needed oversight and resources to achieve polio eradication by 2017.
This is even as the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has assured government’s commitment to building resilience by ‘’getting people out of their comfort zones to further enhance the quality of polio campaigns, reach the children in difficult areas and continue to improve routine immunisation.
Similarly, the Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Muhammed disclosed that efforts are ongoing to close the remaining surveillance gaps in the programme including, ‘’increasing environmental surveillance sites and community informants across the country.’’
Ado also disclosed that Frontline polio workers are also delivering other critical health and nutrition interventions to children, including measles vaccinations and Vitamin A supplements.
‘’Investing to end polio across the African region and around the world are developing a lasting infrastructure and knowledge base that will help to improve the delivery of basic healthcare services and other life –saving vaccines, especially to people living in poor and hard-to-reach areas.
Also the release said that The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, GPEI, partners leading the polio eradication efforts, applauded the commitment of tens and thousands of people, including government officials at all levels, United Nations, UN, and Non Governmental Organization, NGO, partners, health workers, traditional, community leaders and volunteers from all sections of the country in keeping polio out of Nigeria for the past two years.
GPEI partners said that to sustain gains made against polio, Nigeria and the broader African region must improve and sustain the political and financial commitment at all levels of government, adding that they must equally improve their surveillance systems so that in the event of a case of polio, rapid action can be taken to prevent any spread of the disease.
Also, Dr. Rex Mapazanje, Acting WHO Representative of Nigeria noted that the National laboratories have been vigilant on monitoring for polio case.
‘’We must continue to be on alert for any sign of the virus through heightened surveillance, particularly in the vulnerable populations including insurgency-hit areas of the North – East Nigeria and the adjoining areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.’’
UNICEF Country Representative, Jean Gough said, ‘’Achieving a polio-free Africa will bring us closer than ever to a polio-free world, but that success should not be taken for granted.
We must continue to work together with all partners in particular with the traditional institutions at all levels to ensure we reach every child, so we can relegate this paralysing disease to history forever, Gough said.
As long as polio exists anywhere, it poses a threat everywhere. It is essential that Nigeria and the global community continue to vaccinate children against polio. Intensive efforts to vaccinate every child, particularly across Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and any high risk or insecure areas are critical, she noted.
Meanwhile, polio eradication initiative has said it will award polio-free certification for the country in 2017 when Nigeria has achieved three years without a case of polio and officially declared polio-free by the World Health Organization, WHO.

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