Nigeria, a country which had been polio endemic, is two months away from being declared Polio free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This is as Rotary International has approved release of additional grants totaling $40.3m to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to sup- port polio immunization, surveillance and research activities carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 10 countries.
Nigeria which is among the 10 benefiting countries is one month away from being certified polio free by the WHO according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative latest report .
The country reported the last case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) on July 24, 2014, in Kano State.
According to a release by Rotary, if the current progress continues as the country is to receive the sum of $12.2 million from the grants , WHO may remove Nigeria from the list of polio endemic countries as early as September. In addition to the notable progress in Nigeria, no new cases of polio have been reported anywhere in Africa since August 2014.
“We are closer than we’ve ever been to wiping out polio,” said Mike McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “Although there has been noteworthy progress made against the disease, children remain at risk. Rotary along with our partners must continue to stay the course and remain steadfast in our plight to eradicate polio. These funds will help boost our efforts to combat polio worldwide.”
Though Nigeria has made significant progress in the fight polio, experts however, cautioned that it was too early to celebrate.
They argued that Nigeria needs to go an additional two years without polio to be certified polio-free, adding that funding and support for high quality immunization campaigns and surveillance activities will be key to sustaining current gains.
According to McGovern ,the only two other polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, continue to experience hurdles in polio eradication campaigns including inaccessibility to children and security.
“Last year, Pakistan saw an outbreak which resulted in more than 300 cases, the highest number in the country in more than a decade. As a result, Pakistan accounted for almost 90% of the world’s cases. However, there has been improvement in 2015. Cases are down nearly 70% over this same time in 2014.
Progress against polio, while significant, remains fragile. Rotary’s funds will support immunization efforts in: $9.9 million in Nigeria; $12.2 million in Pakistan and $2.3 million in Afghanistan”, he said.
– Angela Onwuzoo