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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nigeria Still Struggling With Polio Eradication, Says Report

By Chukwuma Muanya and Chijioke Iremeka

DESPITE several interventionist programmes on polio eradication in Nigeria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and Routine Immunisation (RI) has said the nation is still one of four major countries with the highest rate of polio in the world.



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According to GPEI report, polio transmission still persists in Nigeria with current 56 cases recorded against 21 cases in 2010.

Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Borno and Yobe are the eight states in Nigeria with active transmission of the disease.

The GPEI's report stated that Kano accounts for 29 per cent of the total Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in Nigeria, stating that the high transmission in Kano is attributed to low population immunity.

In this report, it was recorded that move to interrupt the poliovirus, suffered setbacks during the April 2011 electioneering campaign, when more attention was given to the polls at the expense of the programme.

Also, in GPEI's weekly update, the nationwide strike affected the preparations for the National Immunisation Plus Days scheduled for February 4 to 7 and March 3 to 6.

Another challenge recorded by the programme was the coming on board of new political office holders, who had to be remobilised.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is no room for complacency. "India alongside Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan were once recognised as the world's epicentre of polio, but India's progress in the polio-endemic countries, has not stopped indigenous WPV transmission in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

"The country must maintain sensitive surveillance and high childhood immunity against WPV to guard against any importation of polio until eradication is achieved globally," said WHO.

Director-General, WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan said: "India's success is arguably the greatest public health achievement and has provided a global opportunity to push for the end of polio."

She continued: "Stopping polio in India required creativity, perseverance and professionalism. Lessons from India must now be adapted and implemented through emergency actions to finish polio in Nigeria and other countries."