AS NIGERIA marks the 2016 World Polio Day, the Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewola has disclosed that following the recent resurgence of the Wild Polio Virus, WPV, in Borno State, Nigeria has been relisted as a polio endemic nation. Adewole made this known yesterday in Abuja at a press conference to mark this year’s World Polio Day. He said, “Nigeria has been reclassified as polio endemic following the resurgence of the Wild Polio Virus in Borno in August, adding that this was after two years of interrupting its transmission from July 2014 to July 2016.” Speaking on the cause of the country’s present status on polio list, the minister noted that on October 14 this year, four cases of WPV were detected from Borno State currently under insecurity. “While this new outbreak is a setback for us. We must take it as a wake-up call for us as a government and people to ensure that we all play our part to stop the transmission of the virus in our shores,” the minister said. “It is pertinent to state that the outbreak is not a failure of the polio eradication programme but mainly due to the fact that the activities of the insurgents in the North-East have resulted in limited access to children for immunisation and indeed health services for several years,” he added. Furthermore, the minister who noted that efforts were coordinated in neighbouring counties of Niger, Cameroun, Chad and Central African Republic, disclosed that government had already conducted three outbreak response rounds of polio vaccinations with additional rounds scheduled for November and December this year. He revealed that polio partners had called on the federal government to support
state and local governments to vaccinate over 30 million under five children across 18 states in northern part of the country, including over 1.5 million children in Borno State with Inactivated Polio Vaccine, IPV, to rapidly boost population immunity, as well as intensified surveillance in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps The minister disclosed that the immunisation response targeted at over 41 million children across the five countries was due to support from Global Polio Eradication Partners like World Health Organisation, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation, Core Group Polio Project of the USAID. Meanwhile, the minister who promised that Nigeria would contain the outbreak, expressed appreciation to the military for its on-going efforts to recover territories from insurgents and liberate the population trapped since 2011 which could not benefit from health services, including polio immunisation campaigns. He explained that part of the successful military operations in liberating many of the trapped communities helped to enhance access and ability to detect those new polio cases. Group tasks FG on polio, MSS budgetary transparency in 2017 Meanwhile, a civil society group, Community Health and Research Initiative, Champions for Change CHR/ C4C has called on the federal government to be transparent in its health budgetary allocation as well as increase the 2017 budgets on polio and the Midwives Service Scheme. Project director of CHR/C4C, Dr. Aminu Magashi made this call yesterday in Abuja at the launching of the group’s Budget Transparency Scorecards for Vaccines and MSS in the country. Magashi told newsmen that celebrating the World Polo Day
in the country was the right time to discuss the scorecard to make recommendations and suggestions to the government on increased health outcomes of Nigerians, especially women and under-five children. Speaking on the 2016 Immunisation Budget Transparency Scorecard, Magashi said that the group was able to come out with the scorecard using the 2016 Appropriation Act on health and doing a detailed analysis of the health sector by President Buhari, adding that scorecard on polio and MSS was about transparency, understanding of the information on health sector and acting on it. Scoring Buhari’s government high on privatisation of immunisation, it stressed that allocation of funds meant information on spending made available to the public through the media and other public announcement agencies. “Going by the 15 percent Abuja Declaration, five percent was allocated in 2015 budget but we are calling on the federal government for an increase to about 10 percent in 2017 health budget to show that government is serious in improving the health of its citizenry,” Magashi said. He added that if government could give only one percent of its total budget to health, which is N38 billion, it would boost and improve the health sector in 2017. Speaking on the Midwives Service Scheme, MSS, budget, Magashi said that although many people thought that the scheme was no more existing, government’s allocation of N1 billion to the scheme showed that it was still in operation. In 2016, non-governmental organisations urged government to increase its funding and over N1 billion was allocated to the scheme, adding that government should improve on the 2017 budget envelop and specify who was spending the funds. According to the group’s 2016 Immunisation Budget
Transparency scorecard, total immunisation budget was N12,879.67 billion, which represents 45 percent of the health sector capital budget. Also, budget transparency scorecard for MSS was put at N1, 061,256,144, the group’s scorecard revealed. Mothers urged to sustain fight against polio In a bid to eradicate polio in Enugu State, wife of the governor, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi has called on mothers to ensure that efforts to prevent polio in the state was sustained. Mrs Ugwuanyi made the call during the flag-off of activities to commemorate this year’s World Polio Day. She noted that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration had since its inauguration been working to provide quality health care, pointing out that polio eradication was one of such noble objectives. Urging mothers to always keep a close watch on their babies’ health, Mrs Ugwuanyi advised them to practise exclusive breastfeeding until six months. “You have to ensure that you immunise them against polio and other diseases. Don’t forget that polio is dangerous,” she added. The event marking World Polio Day commenced at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium and later moved to Poly Clinic where Mrs. Ugwuanyi administered oral polio vaccines on some children before proceeding to Okpara Square, where she unveiled the polio plaque. The district governor- nominee of Rotary District 9142 Enugu, Dr. Dan Ajawara said Rotarians across the world remained committed to the goal of “kicking out polio.” He added that global commitment had yielded positive results and that it was regrettable the virus had resurfaced in Nigeria despite the success of massive immunisation campaigns.

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