ARCC commends Nigeria’s efforts towards polio eradication

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Africa Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomelitis Eredication in Africa has ended its week long meeting in Abuja.

The meeting received annual updates and reports from three countries; Mauritania, Angola and Kenya and annual progress reports from five countries; Equitorial Guinea, Quinea Bisau, Central African Republic and South Sudan and Nigeria.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the experts meeting, the chairman of the commission, Professor Rose Leke, said the commission made specific recommendation to all the nine countries that attended the meeting.
 She urged participating countries to continue with the good works they are doing to further strengthen routine immunization and surveillance.
Professor Leke commended Nigeria for the visible efforts made towards polio eradication in the country and pleaded for an even stronger political commitments.
 ‘‘The ARCC  witnessed and noted with satisfaction the firm commitment that Nigeria has made to maintain the high performance achievement and to further strengthen the surveillance, raise immunization coverage especially in areas with insecurity in the islands of the Lake Chad region in order to reach a level consistent with the countries of the region for the health and wellbeing of the people and for the certification of the African region. We thank you very for this commitment’’, Professor Leke said.
 She urged other countries to work together to accelerate Africa certification.  
 The chairman also said that the commission accepted the complete documentation of Madagascar after a thorough review and congratulated the country for the efforts, urging them to sustain the work.
Amongst the recommendations at the meeting was that the World Health Organisation works with all African countries to achieve certification.
Responding, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, said that the recommendations gives WHO more focus on the actions that are required from them.
‘’The WHO would do all that is recommended there and even beyond to make sure that Nigeria stands out and make sure that it finish the unfinished business’’ Alemu said.
He urged the Nigerian government to do everything possible reach to unreachable areas in the country to curb polio.
The Nigeria minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole, who was represented at the event by Dr. Dorathy Nwodo, said that hosting the conference in Nigeria was timely and relevant.
She said that Nigeria is committed to eradicating polio in the country despite challenges.
 ‘‘In addressing these challenges, the government has done the following; ’We have high level  commitment by the government of Nigeria. We have engaged a lot of stakeholders at all levels, we established the presidential task force on Polio Eradication, we are also using the military in security compromised areas and many more interventions’’, the minister said.
 The health minister said that Nigeria would ensure more collaborations with other stakeholders to address the remaining issues mitigating having a polio free Nigeria. 
 The Executive Director National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, pointed out that together with their partners, the agency would finish the job of polio eradication.
 ARCC commended the Nigeria’s efforts and progress in implementing the polio eradication initiative despite the many remaining challenges and recommended WHO and GPEI partners to continue using workable strategies and new technologies to address the following:
o   Proportion of unreached children in security compromised areas.
o   Number of islands and their populations
o   Surveillance and routine immunization gaps
o   Regularly provide updates on proportions of unreached pop and territories through various data sources
Bilkisu Pai