The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has assured the African Regional Certification Commission that Nigeria and indeed Africa would soon be free from polio.
Adewole stressed that the Federal Government would continue to provide all the required human and material resources to finish the job of polio eradication.
The minister made this known at the opening ceremony of the meeting of African Regional Certification Commission held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on Monday, where he appealed to donors to continue to support Nigeria, “so that we can achieve our collective goal of a polio free Nigeria.”
According to him, “We are certainly not resting on our oars; may I quickly point out that our greatest challenge is that of accessibility to all eligible children particularly in parts of the Northeast, especially Borno State.
“We would not be quick to state that we have successfully truncated transmission until every part of our beloved country is accessible to the vaccination and surveillance teams.
“Nevertheless, we are confident that this will happen sooner than expected as our armed forces are doing extremely well to overwhelm the Boko Haram insurgency,” he stressed.
Adewole added: “We will continue to make our surveillance increasingly sensitive. We are collaborating with other ministries, including the Ministry of Environment particularly in high risk states. Permit me to add that our efforts are beginning to yield results considering the fact that we have spent 18 months without a case of polio virus in Nigeria.
The minister noted that the meeting was held in order to fashion out strategies to end the menace in the continent, assuring that the aim would not be lost.
“Our decision to host this meeting today is anchored on our resolve to liberate Nigeria and indeed Africa from the scourge of poliomyelitis. It is my conviction that this meeting will provide workable strategies that will enable us decimate poliomyelitis in the region. I look forward to learning a lesson or two on how to sustain a polio-free status from other successful countries.”
Adewole further stated that Africa was making very remarkable progress towards the eradication of poliomyelitis in the region.
In 2012, he continued, the African region reported 128 wild poliovirus (WPV) cases, which accounted for more than half of the global burden. However, in 2013, about seventy-six cases were reported; in 2014, about 17cases; no case was reported in 2015. Nonetheless, in 2016, after almost two years, four cases were confirmed from areas that were under Boko Haram Insurgency in Borno State in Nigeria. As you all know the outbreak was successfully contained and in a timely manner too.
“You will recall that the last Wild Polio Virus (WPV) was reported 21 months ago in Monguno Council Area of Borno State. Nigeria however remains on the list of polio endemic countries as some areas in the Northeast remain inaccessible to the polio programme. The last WPV1 case had onset of paralysis on 21 August 2016 while the last virus of WPV was on the 27 September 2017 from a contact in Borno State,” he said.