Polio: WHO Warns Nigeria not to Relent Effort until the Virus is totally eradicated

By Clara Obi

File picture.Dr Moeti flags off a Polio & Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) integrated
File picture.Dr Moeti flags off a Polio & Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) integrated

Polio is a virus that is liable to cause paralysis of the limb which is mainly common among children. According to the WHO this endemic virus is likely to cause more than 20,000 death cases each year. However, following the detection of this virus in the northern part of Nigeria, multiple vaccination campaign has been set to raise population against the widespread of the poliovirus. Nigeria and other neighbouring countries are teaming up to tackle this impending disease.

As Nigeria join the rest of the world in celebrating the world polio day, the WHO commended the effort of Nigeria to help curb this disease and also advises the country not to relent in their effort to eradicate this virus. Although the WHO regional director of Africa Dr Matshiso Moet further stated that all countries will continue to remain at risk of this outbreak until polio is totally eradicated. She made it known that Africa is likely to be a polio free region by 2020 if there are no further cases of the virus alongide strong surveillance to curb this poliomyelities.

A range of innovative strategies are being put together to reach out to children, mostly those who stay in areas where this disease can be easily spread. Nigeria and other countries are working endlessly to ensure that polio is a thing of the past. More effort is being seen by the government In support of this eradication with the funding of some programmes to help increase the awareness of the virus.

Polio in Nigeria

Although the number of polio cases has decreased in some region in Africa, but according to study, Nigeria still has half of the world’s cases of polio, which eventually need a quick and immediate response from the ministry of health. During this year’s polio day organized by WHO, the minister of health Isaac Adewole who was in attendance said over 120,000 children are yet to be immunised in the north eastern part of the country. He however said that the insurgency in that part of the country has made the rapid spread of this disease through ingesting food or water containing fecal matter.

Mr Adewole still applauded the effort of Nigeria and Africa at large in eradicating this virus saying although there is no cure but some countries has improvised safety measures and vaccines to prevent its spread.

How have we tackled the spread of Polio

As earlier stated, the polio virus so far has not been cured but there have been vaccines that prevent its spread in the community and recently it has been a good one for Africans in tackling this disease with some great improvement seen in the region.

In 2012, a hundred and twenty eight cases of the polio spread were reported in Africa but interestingly 76 cases were later reported in 2013, 16 cases in 2014 and none in 2015 . Obviously that’s a great record although some research lately confirmed two new cases in borno state, Nigeria. The government in the north eastern part of the country has declared emergency on the outbreak followed by the implementation of large supplementary immunization activities in the affected state.

The regional boss said that since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there has been a drastic reduction in the cases of the virus by more than 99.9 percent.


Polio in Africa

According to research, Kenya has the highest risk of this outbreak which occur as a result of the inability to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of its 1.5 million children. In a recent news update, the ministry of health, Kenya paediatric association partnering with other health association are launching a nation wide campaign to prevent the continuous spread of this disease with a target of curbing this disease among those under the age of 5. It is a house to house campaign to help eradicate this disease by immunising every child. Although, Ethiopia celebrated a polio free status, other regions in Africa are still advised to remain committed to its polio eradication effort in order to put an end to polio. The government of Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria as well as other countries in the region are working together to end this outbreak as soon as possible.

Nigeria may be polio free by 2019

Lately, some interesting solution has been made to curb the disease and soon Nigeria will be declared a polio free region. Mr Kola Sodipo said this in the just concluded house to house campaign to eradicate the virus. The district governor of the rotary club Mr Sodipo said the club had spent some billions of dollars in campaign erdication. While speaking with journalists, Sodipo posited that for the past 26 months there has not been any single case of the virus in the country. In the recent research study it was recorded that the cases of polio has been reduced from 388 to zero assuring that Nigeria will be removed from the polio endemic nations by next year.

The polio infrastructure in Nigeria is a developed system that governments and other partners can rely on to achieve this nationwide health coverage, the country’s WHO representative Dr Wondimagegnehu said they will continue to ensure its adequate support to the federal and state government.

However, the WHO said they won’t stop until every child is vaccinated against the virus. Urging the health workers not to relent in its effort until the polio is totally eradicated since other countries are still at risk of the outbreak. The Africa region can only be a certified polio free region if three years have passed and there is no case of the virus.

Therefore, WHO advises that all partners needs to work together to stop the outbreak and also, increase community awareness among us. Parents and communities need to work together to ensure their children are protected from this virus. It is important that health facilities and parents work together to make polio a history in the region.

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