Contrary to reports that Nigeria will by certified polio-free by 2015 Chairman Expert Review Committee, ERC, Mr. Oyewale Tomori has said Nigeria can only be certified polio free in 2018 if it does not record any new case of polio this year.
Tomori who spoke at the 29th meeting of the Expert Review Committee on Polio and Routine Immunisation in Abuja, said according to the WHO regulation, to be totally free of polio will take three years. “Polio transmission is just a step in the way; polio eradication is what we are looking for to make sure that there is no new cases of polio for the next three years. The wild polio virus which we recorded last year are issues we need to pay attention to, to make sure that this country is totally free of either of the two types of viruses,” he said.
Further, he added that “the job is not finished; there is the need for more funds, because it is even more difficult in the last stage. To rid this country of polio, funding must not only be sustained but improved.”
Tomori said the activities done so far this year on surveillance in making sure they get to all the children must be intensified.
“This country took care of Ebola by doing aggressive surveillance with aggressive vaccination of our children we can get rid of polio in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, the Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Mohammed said: “When you compare Nigeria to other polio endemic countries, Nigeria has made significant progress. As of the last count, Afghanistan reported 32 cases of polio virus, Pakistan reported 297 cases and Nigeria reported six cases of polio virus.
“The whole world is looking up to Nigeria to exit as a polio endemic nation. This is not just by chance but by the hardwork put in by the Ministry of Health, and through the transformation agenda of president Goodluck Jonathan. It is the same polio infrastructure that is used to eradicate Ebola.
“The last case of polio virus in Nigeria was reported in July 2014 and making it six months without the incidence of polio virus in Nigeria. What it means is that no child has been paralyse as a result of polio virus in Nigeria in six months”, he added.
He said the nation is counting days for the interruption of polio virus. “By July 24th, 2015 it will be one year if there is no new case, what it means is that Nigeria will have interrupted virus transmission and two years later we will achieve certification.
He further stated that for polio and routine immunisation must go together if you make gains in polio without success in routine immunisation you cannot sustain that gain.
For the very first time in this country routine immunisation is working well, we have been able to move routine immunization coverage from 52 per cent two years ago to 91 per cent national average coverage by the end of 2015.