The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to formally pronounce the delisting of Nigeria as a polio endemic country before President Muhammadu Buhari.
The event, which is slated for the State House, Abuja, on October 26 will see the country hosting the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, who will be represented by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso R. Moeti.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, “The Regional Director will meet with Mr. President to formally announce to the Government of Nigeria the WHO’s decision to remove Nigeria from the list of Polio endemic countries, as a recognition of the immediate achievement of Nigeria in stopping the transmission of the Wild Polio Virus for a period of fourteen months, which has exceeded WHO’s target for interruption”.
The Regional Director, Dr. Moeti, is also expected to emphasize to policy makers and major stakeholders, that despite tremendous progress in Nigeria, complacency is not a luxury at the disposal of the Government and partners until the gains of this great feat is sustained for two years to be able to achieve the certification of Nigeria as a Polio-free Nation by 2017.
In order to boost population immunity of children between the ages of zero to five years, as well as achieve eradication status in 2017, Nigeria will continue to vaccinate children, irrespective of their previous immunization status.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, during his interface with the High Level Advocacy Team on Poliomyelitis, headed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, emphasized that his administration “Would provide the necessary oversight over the Programme to ensure no child ever gets paralyzed again by Wild Polio Virus”.
He therefore directed the Federal Ministry of Health and its Agency to come up with programme elements that would sustain the gains and maintain the momentum towards achieving a final certification.
Consequently, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health, has developed a robust Polio Emergency Plan with corresponding roadmap detailing strategies to sustain the achievement.
According to the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Ado Muhammad, “The Programme will continue to carry out high quality Polio campaigns, intensify routine immunization and enhance surveillance system, all aimed at sustaining the Polio zero case status of the Country”.
He said that this is ‘critical’ to achieving eradication and attaining certification by 2017.