The Coordinator, Polio Eradication Programme, at World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa Regional Office, Dr Pascal Mkanda has commended the Nigerian Government over its achievements in the area of Polio eradication.
Mkanda, however, advised that more work needed to be done to stop transmission of all types of polio viruses.
He made the recommendation on Wednesday, in Abuja, during the 37th Meeting of the Expert Review Committee (ERC), on Polio and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria.
He acknowledged the work done by the programme, especially by the frontline workers who, he said, continued to work, even in very challenging situations.
Making a presentation on behalf of ERC members, he assured Nigeria that if it got it right, Africa could be certified Polio-free soon, having achieved the milestone status of being wild polio-free for three years.
Mkanda said the African Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), for Polio Eradication Certification, would start conducting field verification and review of interruption of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) from Dec. 9.
“If the ARCC is satisfied with the national documentation and field verification, the WHO African Region could be certified to have eradicated WPV by mid-2020.
Nigeria is one of the remaining four countries in Africa including Central African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroun, that are yet to have documentation accepted for Polio Certification.’’
According to Mkanda, it is important for the Nigerian government and partners to avoid any complacency that can jeopardise Nigeria’s removal from the list of polio-endemic countries as the ERC meets periodically to evaluate progress made in ensuring a polio-free Nigeria.
The expert noted that the monitoring body also provided guidance to the government and development partners on best practices in routine immunisation in Nigeria.
Mkanda said that preliminary recommendations from 37th ERC included that the programme collaborated with the military in taking advantage of the dry season to accelerate implementation of reaching children in hard-to-reach and inaccessible areas.