Friday, November 18, 2016 6:35 pm
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, says more than 31 million children have been immunised as part of Federal Government’s efforts to stop transmission of wild polio virus in the country.
Adewole made this known during the commissioning of the new Modular Polio Laboratory at the Department of Virology, University of Ibadan, on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the laboratory was purchased with a grant from the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) to support polio eradication activities in Nigeria.
Adewole said that discovery of two wild polio virus in three local government areas in Borno has resulted in the commencement of a robust outreach response to curtail the outbreak of polio in the country.
According to him, the federal government is living no stone unturned to ensure that we interrupt the transmission of polio once again.
“This modular lab could not have come at a better time; as you are aware we are currently implementing a very robust outbreak response to the resurgence of the wild polio virus in security challenged North East state of Borno.
“As of today we have conducted four outbreak response rounds in addition to immediate response; the first response resulted in 800,000 children immunised in the first round.
“The first, second and third rounds covered 18 northern states with the exception of Kwara and Kogi states.
“The third round which ended in October resulted in 31,422,237 children being immunised; we are currently compiling the result of the fourth round which ended on Nov. 15.
“We are on track to commence the fifth round by Dec. 5, and our ultimate aim is to reach over 41 million children with each round,” he said.
Adewole said declaring the country polio-free earlier in the year was rather premature due to the problems of insurgence in the North-Eastern states.
“We should not have declared Nigeria polio-free when we did; what we should have said scientifically is that the area of the country that is free is those accessible to healthcare services.
“What we have now is polio being detected in areas that we had no control over before, these are areas that had no access to medical care in the last five years with no way to vaccinate them.
“My profound appreciation goes to the military for their giant strides which constitute part of the success in the ongoing effort to recover territories which could not benefit from health services.
“Through the effort of the military we have proper access and protection for health workers in these areas,” he said.
According to him, the outbreak was not a failure of the polio eradication campaign but as a wakeup call to see that polio transmission is successfully interrupted in the country.
The U.S. Consul General, John Bray, said that the new facility, which cost an estimated $400,000 was part of the U.S. government effort to improve health and wellbeing of Nigerians.
“The U.S. government is proud to partner with the government of Nigeria to support efforts to improve health of the people of Nigeria.
“Health initiatives in Nigeria are a U.S. government priority as evidenced by the fact that well over half of USAID budget in Nigeria is spent on health,” he said.
He said that the country needed to be vigilant in the fight against polio until global certification.
“After nearly two years of no polio cases, the re-emergence of the wild polio virus in July 2016 in North eastern Nigeria is a huge set back in efforts to eradicate polio from the world.
“This new facility will enhance Nigeria’s ability to respond to polio outbreaks quickly, by promptly diagnosing polio from samples received from the 48 environmental sewage sites across the country,” he said.
The World Health Organisation Representative, Ms Fiona Braya, said that the modular laboratory would also support the diagnosis of other viral infections like measles, rubella, rotavirus, yellow fever and dengue fever, among others.
NAN reports that more than 70 participants attended the event, including Nigerian government officials, representatives of donor agencies and Rotary International. (NAN)