NPHCDA vows to end polio in Nigeria

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), has vowed to end polio in Nigeria so as to rid the country of its devastating effects.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, NPHCDA Executive Director, made the vow on the sidelines of the commemoration of the World Polio Day on Thursday in Abuja.

World Polio Day is observed annually across the world on October 24, the day set aside to raise the awareness for vaccination and eradication of Polio.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by deadly ‘Poliovirus’ usually affecting children under five years of age.

“Once Polio is eradicated, children will no longer suffer from polio-paralysis. Polio eradication is an important responsibility of every citizen, country, and the world; we must all work hard to eradicate it so that every child can stand on his feet. We pay a lot of attention to Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), because it remains the best tool for achieving polio eradication. It is safe, effective, and responsible for the eradication of over 99 per cent of polio cases worldwide over the past 30 years,’’ he said.

He expressed happiness that Nigeria had been declared free of the polio virus in the last three years, but said that the nation would not relax.

“We have to be more vigilant. It’s clear that we have overcome the virus. We have to keep looking at those hard-to-reach areas to ensure that every child is reached with the vaccines they need,” he said.

Shuaib said the NPHCDA was working with development partners to track all border routes and vaccinate immigrants to avoid a possible relapse of the wild polio virus.

“We still have a long way to go in terms of Polio eradication, especially if the virus exists anywhere in the world. Nigeria has to be protected because the world is a global village and there’s influx of people from all parts of the world into the country every day,’’ he advised.

He called on parents and caregivers to ensure that their children were protected and properly vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“It is criminal for parents not to take their children for vaccination. If we invest in protecting our children, we get the best Nigerians in future. Working with some of our partners, especially GAVI, we have mapped out plans to provide cold-chain facilities in Primary Health Care (PHC), across the country in the next 10 years. We are confident that the vaccines that are being given to our children are potent and safe,’’ he said.

Shuaib said that the agency was discussing with governors to invest in PHC, to ensure that in the shortest possible time, Nigeria achieves Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The World Polio Day was initiated by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine against poliomyelitis.

Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), established in 1988, has reportedly reduced polio by 99 per cent in 2013.

Bilkisu Pai