- As it celebrates one year of polio-free status
As Nigeria celebrates one year of being polio-free since the last case of a16-month-old boy from Sumaila Local Government Area in Kano State, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health CARE development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Muhammad, has said that Nigeria is one step closer to achieving the goal of eradicating polio by the year 2017.
Speaking against the backdrop of Nigeria’s celebration of one year of being polio-free since the last case of a 16-month-old boy from Sumaila Local Government Area in Kano State occurred, Ado said if all pending laboratory investigations return negative in the next few weeks, Nigeria will officially be taken off the list of polio-endemic countries.
“Nigeria will only be certified polio free by WHO in 2017, provided it maintains its zero case status, further strengthens its surveillance system, improves routine immunisation and maintains high quality campaigns. Consequently, achieving one year without polio is just one of the hurdles the country needs to surmount before being certified polio free in 2017.”
A joint press release sent to Nigeria Pilot Saturday by NPHCDA, disclosed that Nigeria recorded 122 caseloads of poliovirus as the highest number of polio cases globally and the polio epicentre of the world in 2012.
The release added, “As Nigeria marks one year without a case of polio and embarks on the road to certification, it is important to pay tribute to the hundreds of thoughts of vaccinators, community mobilisers, Traditional and Religious leaders, parents and caregivers who have supported polio eradication efforts for more than a decade, despite the challenges.
“Nigeria’s achievement in stopping polio will save hundreds of thousands of children from lifelong paralysis or death each year. Polio efforts have contributed substantively to improving the health system, including disease surveillance, routine immunization and maternal and child health.”
According to the release, the immediate past Minister of State for Health, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo, said, “Our eyes are on the prize, but this is the most critical time in the programme. Because the stakes are so high we know that the eyes of the world are on us all to deliver and there is no room for complacency until we achieve eradication in 2017. We are far from there yet.”
“We’re really excited by the historic progress that has been made here in Nigeria, however we can’t get distracted by this progress. We are now looking ahead to our next challenge which is to sustain the momentum on an emergency footing until 2017, with strong government oversight and continued levels of funding, so that Nigeria can hit the three year mark with no cases, and finally eradicate this crippling disease’’, he noted.