Africa advances toward polio-free status


Polio Immunization

TUESDAY, August 11, 2015, marked one year since the last wild polio case was detected on the entire African continent. A polio-free Africa would leave only two countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement, yesterday, said in the Horn of Africa, no wild polio cases have been reported since the last case in central Somalia on August 11, 2014.

The statement reads: “Although it is not yet an official milestone on the path to polio-free certification, today marks one year since the last wild polio case was detected on the entire African continent, signaling important progress toward eradication.

“Nigeria, the last endemic country in the African region, marked one year without a case of wild polio on July 24, 2015. If continued lab results in the coming weeks confirm no new cases in Nigeria, and if the WHO African Region then goes two more years without a case of wild polio in the face of strong surveillance, it could be certified polio-free by the Africa Regional Certification Commission.

“In a Horn of Africa outbreak assessment completed in June 2015, an assessment team concluded that transmission in Kenya and Ethiopia has also been interrupted. Undetected low level transmission in Somalia cannot be ruled out, the team concluded, and outbreak response activities are continuing throughout the country.

“A polio-free Africa would leave only two countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, according to the latest edition of Weekly Polio Update published yesterday by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), no new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases were reported in the past week, in Nigeria.

It noted: “No cases have been reported in 2015. Nigeria’s total WPV1 case count for 2014 remains six. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 24 July 2014 in Sumaila Local Government Area (LGA), southern Kano state.

“No new cases of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV2) cases were reported in the past week. The most recent case had onset of paralysis in Kwali Local Government Area (LGA), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with onset of paralysis on 16 May; this is the only cVDPV2 case reported in Nigeria in 2015.

“In line with the National Emergency Action Plan for polio eradication, aggressive and rapid vaccination activities are conducted in response to any detected virus. Three case response ‘mopping-up campaigns’ using trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) are taking place in the FCT and Kaduna and Kogi states, as well as in adjacent LGAs of Niger and Nasarawa states, to stop transmission of the persistent strain of cVDPV2.

Two ‘mopping-up campaigns’ have already taken place in July and a third is scheduled for August 15 to 18. Subnational Immunization Days (SNIDs) are planned in the north of Nigeria on September 5 and 17 October.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to sustain the End Polio campaign, the Rotary Club of Abuja has taken its awareness campaign to hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to the President of the Rotary Club Abuja, Mrs. Jumoke Okpo, the aim of the exercise is to step up polio eradication in the country, even as the country had gone one year without Polio.

The campaign, which started at the Maitama District Hospital, took the Club to Gwarinpa General Hospital and other key hospitals to emphasis the need for continuous vaccination.

District Governor, Rotary District 9125, Dr. Mike Omotosho, stressed that though the country had gone one year without Polio, it was not yet time to rejoice.

He noted how Rotary under his watch would focus more on humanitarian projects in the country.

He said: “What we are saying here is that we have spent one year without any polio case. Since 24th of July 2014, it is a full year without any polio case. But, it is not indicative of total eradication of polio in Nigeria.

“What we are saying is that in the next two years, all hands must be on deck, everybody must play his or her role to ensure we finally eradicate polio from Nigeria.

“The reality of the matter is that we have done one year, but the next two years promise to be a lot more difficult. That is why we are calling on everybody to contribute just little of their resources, because that way, you will be able to immunise 10 to 10,000 children; that is the beauty of it.”

Omotosho continued: “Beside your money, you can also contribute your time. On polio immunization day, you can go out and join people. You don’t have to be a medical doctor or health worker. You may as simply as just enlightening the public and help them carry the cooler. It may be even a word of encouragement for them.”

He called on corporate organisations and individuals to join the club to contribute to development of humanity.

The Club also mounted a large billboard at the Hospital and distributed Polio awareness kits to management.

Medical Director of the Hospital, Mrs. Sikirat Sotimehin, thanked the club for it’s strives towards total eradication of the polio in Nigeria and pledged to partner with Rotary to ensure continuous awareness and immunization.

Meanwhile, the Indian specialist hospital in Nigeria, Primus International Super Specialty Hospital recently carried out a free health check up Camp within the Federal Capital City.

The hospital management said the decision for these free check-up is part of its corporate social responsibility to open its services and state of the art equipment to Nigerian patients, majority of whom could not afford to go abroad.

The Hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Umaru Jibia, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja said, “ the free check up camp consultation was for the following department; dietician consultation/General Physician, eye check, blood sugar, Gynecology consultation and cardiology.”

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