Buhari canvasses efforts for polio-free status
President Muhammadu Buhari wants Nigeria to continue efforts to win certification as a polio-free country by 2017 after recording its last case in July last year, his office said Tuesday.
“I want to reaffirm the commitment of the federal government to sustain the gains and momentum to enable Nigeria to achieve certification by 2017,” Buhari told a meeting of state governors in Abuja late Monday.
“I am, therefore, inviting you to join me in actualising this pledge, as experts have cautioned that the progress we have made in polio eradication efforts is still very fragile and that there is the risk of gains reversal if we don’t sustain this great effort,” he said.
Buhari said the country must sustain its zero polio case status, strengthen surveillance to quickly detect any case of polio, improve routine immunisation coverage and provide the needed human and material resources.
“As you are aware, the fact that we have not had any case of polio for over a year now does not mean that we are polio free. It is just one of the milestones on the path to being polio-free,” he said.
He urged the governors to diligently supervise the polio eradication programme in their states and join the Abuja government in ensuring resources were provided and efficiently utilised.
Nigeria in July marked one year since its last case of polio, raising hopes it would soon be taken off the list of endemic countries as the first step to being declared free of the disease.
The last case was in the Sumaila district of Kano state, in the country’s north — one of only six in 2014 and well down on the 338 recorded in 2009, according to World Health Organization data.
Nigeria and the two other countries on the polio-endemic list, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have all faced challenges in implementing immunisation programmes.
Immunisation teams have been attacked and even killed while rumours were spread about the safety of the vaccine.