Eight months since the last recorded infection of polio virus in the country, India has expressed optimism that Nigeria would be polio-free. Nigeria, India says, has taken the right step to eradicate the disease.

India also promised to help Nigeria to raise funds to fight the disease through a global programme tagged, “End Polio Now Torch.”

The torch is Rotary International’s attempt to fund global anti-polio efforts as it passes through cities — and the three polio-endemic countries of Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan — before reaching the organisation’s convention in Sao Paolo in June. In an interview with journalists after accepting the torch in Abuja, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ajjampur Rangaiah, said Nigeria was taking the steps India took shortly before it was declared polio-free.

He said, “We fought against polio for 20 years at enormous cost and we are now planning to continue to sustain it. We want the rest of the world to be with us. Nigeria should learn from us because it will benefit a lot as a polio-free country.” The Governor of Rotary’s District 9125 Abuja, Mogboyi Omatsola, said the flame, like the Olympic torch, was lit last December in Chennai, India, to commemorate India’s polio-free status and “to promote the need to go the last mile in the battle to eradicate the disease.” “The presence of the torch has brought new energy to our efforts, so we are obliged to refocus our efforts on polio awareness”, Omatsola said.

Rotary coordinates fund raising from governments, organisations and individuals to complement Nigeria’s spending on polio, and Omatsola estimates that “Rotary has spent $1.2bn since 1985″ when the initiative started. Also, the Governor-elect of District 9125, Abuja, Dr. Mike Omotosho, said anti-polio efforts would work with the support of government and individuals. According to him, as long as there is a child with polio, every child is at risk.

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