TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Nigeria Country Representative, Dr walter Kazadi Mulombo WHO has congratulated Nigeria and the entire African Continent on the declaration of wild polio virus free certification that was announced on 25 August 2020.
Saying, the massive public health achievement, was made possible due to the leadership and commitment of governments, global polio partners, traditional and religious institutions, frontline health workers and vaccinators.
He made this known on Thursday in Abuja, on occasion of a World Press Conference on Thursday, 27th of August 2020 at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja following the August 25th official declaration of Nigeria and the African Region as Polio Free, while adding that, it is a moment to celebrate the many individuals that worked tirelessly to make this milestone possible.
Mulombo further stated that, the certification demonstrates what Nigeria and other African countries can accomplish when goals are backed by strong political commitment.
According to him; ” Nigeria’s battle with wild polio has been long and complex. I therefore commend the Government of Nigeria for the steadfast commitment in leading a massive national effort over the past couple of decades. The leadership of the Presidential Task Force facilitated oversight of the programme at the highest level, drawing on the necessary resources and holding states accountable for their responsibilities.
” Nigeria is lauded for several innovations that were devised to address the prevailing challenges under the strong coordination of the National Polio Emergency Operations Center. The lessons and expertise from the Nigeria experience have been useful to address other disease outbreaks and are currently being deployed to strengthen routine immunization and primary health care”, he stated.
Mulombo, however, thanked donors and partners for their full support to the polio eradication effort. The unwavering support was critical for supporting the government to implement the recommended strategies. We appreciate your commitment and count on you to continue supporting the Nigeria towards global certification and PHC systems strengthening.
He , therefore, stressed that; “As we mark this milestone, we must emphasize the need to be vigilant to prevent resurgence of wild polio virus given the disease has not been eradicated globally. 102 wild polio virus cases have so far been reported in Pakistan and Afghanistan this year.
Additionally, we are faced with the continued threat of vaccine derived polio viruses – 16 countries in the region are experiencing circulating vaccine derived polio virus outbreaks. Nigeria and the region can defeat cVDPVs and protect against WPV importation if all commit to increasing vaccination coverage and strengthening disease surveillance.
He added that, WHO looks forward to supporting you to build on the great success achieved to continuing the effort to close immunity gaps through a strong routine immunization and primary health care system.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire added that, this achievement was made possible by the strong commitment of the President of the Federal Republic and of Federal, State and Local Governments, with the support of Development Partners, Sponsors and Donors, Traditional, Religious and Community leaders, and not the least, thousands of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) staff and gallant frontline health workers, who moved from house to house, community to community, vaccinating children, sometimes under difficult and daunting circumstances.
According to him, declaring Nigeria as a polio virus free state is particularly significant for us, coming at a time when we are on the threshold of fostering an evolution in the health sector, built on the revelations and opportunities provided by the COVID-19 outbreak and inspired by the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that, the Federal Government, through NPCHDA, has mapped out various polio assets across the country and started deploying them for the purpose of other disease interventions. I urge State Governors to support this effort and begin to implement the transition of the experienced polio human resources for Health, to other areas of the health sector, especially at Primary care level. This new era can be the rallying point for progress and development of Health on the African continent and our country. This is my message for you today.
- Thank you for your attention and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.