Polio-free status: WHO warns Nigeria against complacency
By Our Reporter
Abuja, August 27, 2020 - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against complacency as Nigeria celebrates Wild Polio Virus (WPV) eradication certification.
WHO’s Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi, gave the warning at a news conference on the celebration, in collaboration with Ministry of Health and global stakeholders of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Thursday in Abuja.
The African Regional Commission for Certification of Polio Eradication (ARCC), a WHO organ accepted Nigeria’s Wild Polio Virus Free Documentation after 30 years.
Nigeria attained wild polio-free status after meeting all the criteria for certification, which include three years of non-detection of the virus.
Kazadi said that Nigeria must also strengthen disease surveillance to ensure there was no importation of WPV to the country.
He added that the certification demonstrated what Nigeria and other African countries could accomplish when goals were backed by strong political commitment.
He noted that “Nigeria’s battle with wild polio has been long and complex. I, therefore, commend the government for the steadfast commitment in leading a massive national effort over the past couple of decades.
“The leadership of the Presidential Task Force facilitated oversight of the programme at the highest level, drawing on necessary resources and holding states accountable for their responsibilities.
“Nigeria is applauded for several innovations devised to address prevailing challenges under the strong coordination of the National Polio Emergency Operations Centre.”
The country representative said that the lessons and expertise from Nigeria’s experience had been useful to addressing other disease outbreaks and were currently deployed to strengthen routine immunisation and primary healthcare.
Alhaji Salihu Aliero, the Chairman of the Governing Board of NPHCDA, congratulated staff of the agency under the leadership of Dr Faisal Shuaib for a job well done.
He said “congratulations for all the giant strides made possible by the minister of health.
“We appreciate and commend the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for setting up the task force on polio in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, the NPHCDA boss said Nigeria got to its current position through formidable partnership.
He said that “President Buhari in 2016 showed remarkable leadership by approving the release of N9.8 billion to eradicate polio.
“The sacrifices made by health workers who paid the supreme price has not gone in vain.
“Today and always, we say thank you. Variable progress was made when traditional, religious and community leaders joined the fight against polio eradication in Nigeria.
“Today is a new dawn for all primary healthcare workers in Nigeria. We will use the polio eradication structure to flatten the Coronavirus (COVID-19) curve in the country.
“We have started training over 200,000 healthcare workers. We know the work is not yet done. We must sustain the glory of polio eradicating in Nigeria,” he noted.