By Joyce Remi- Babayeju
Nigeria government is patiently awaiting its 11 month countdown to be certified by the World Health Organization, WHO, as the last polio free country in the African continent.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaibu on Tuesday revealed that in 11months WHO will certify Nigeria as a polio free if the country keeps up with the positive trajectory of immunization.
Shuaib disclosed this good news in Abuja at the 36th quarterly meeting of Expert Review Committee, ERC, meeting on polio eradication and Routine Immunization in the country.
He said, “we have to achieve polio free nation, then we have to do a better job to endure all Nigerian kids are vaccinated.”
Shuaibu emphasized that Nigeria is very close to polio eradication, “we have done over 25 months now surveillance showing clearly that we are not missing wild polio virus cases in any of these areas. If this positive trajectory continues in the next 11 months”, then we will be certified as a polio free nation.
According him the experts and NPHCDA had done over 25 month surveillance with no case of polio virus infection recorded, adding that some measures have be put in place by NPHCDA to ensure the coverage of hard to reach areas but we still need parents to bring their children for routine immunization,”.
Speaking further he said that recent studies have shown that between 2016 and early month of 2018, there is 10℅ increase in routine immunization coverage.
“But we have gone so far, when it comes to polio eradication, we must provide an environment where people can do the work that will help us cross the line. I am happy with all the folk’s that are doing the hard work at the operational level and those on the field.”
Faisal noted that there is the need to begin to target the community and harness all resources towards at improving primary health care.
In his goodwill message, UNICEF Country Representative, Muhammed Fall, commended all front line workers who lost their lives, sustained injuries or are in captivities while discharging their duties. Any gain made today will be sustained, he emphasised.
WHO Country Representative, Dr. Wondi Alemu said, “the challenges are still there and tough, we are not deterred with the challenges ahead as WHO is committed and dedicated to eradicating polio in Nigeria.