Thursday, October 14, 2010

Polio infections down by 98% in Nigeria, UNICEF reports


Poliomyelitis virus infection in Nigeria has dropped by 98 per cent since 2009, UNICEF said in a statement in Abuja on Oct. 11.

The statement, signed by Paula Fedesk of UNICEF Communication, Media and External Relations Unit, said, “It is one of the most dramatic reductions in polio virus circulation seen in any endemic country in the history of polio eradication programme.

“Nigeria had had a total of 367 cases in 2009 but only 8 cases as at October 4, 2010.”

It explained that the achievement was the outcome of the sustained effort of political and traditional leaders as well as the commitment of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

According to the statement, Nigeria can stop polio virus transmission by mid-2011 if it intensifies its effort and upgrades its eradication programme. It stressed that the battle against polio was not yet won as the gaps in the programme needed to be addressed to stop transmission.

Nigeria needs to record zero cases of polio transmission for at least three years for it to be certified polio-free. UNICEF promised to continue its support for vaccine procurement and ensure that the vaccines reached their destinations.

The statement quoted Suomi Saki, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, as saying that once polio was interrupted, it had to stay interrupted. Dr Saki also promised that UNICEF will ensure that Nigerian children were protected against polio.

“We have to work together to make sure that all children in the country are protected routinely against polio.”

The official also said that the effort would ensure the protection of children “against other vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus”.

The statement said the Federal Ministry of Health with UNICEF and other partners is working to put in place mechanisms that would deliver maternal, newborn and child healthcare services.