Nigeria begins emergency polio vaccinations

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polio vaccine being administered to a child in Kawo Kano. Photo:
polio vaccine being administered to a child in Kawo Kano. Photo:

Nigeria  has approved a robust response plan, developed by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, to tackle and prevent the further spread of the Wild Polio-Virus (WPV) in the country.

The Minister of Health, Prof.Isaac Adewole said this at a news briefing on Wednesday in Abuja.

Adewole said the plans included, five rounds of polio campaigns, two of which are to focus on 18 Northern states and two to be conducted nationwide while one would be conducted in five states

He said that the campaigns would be synchronized with the affected regions and provinces in Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Central African Republic.

He said under the sub- national campaign 31 million children would be vaccinated with oral polio vaccines in the north-east, north -west and north-central zones of the country.

He added that the nationwide response would see the vaccination of more than 56 million children in  October and November.

The Minister said that the revised plan was informed by factors such as historical data on WPV affected areas, pattern of transmission over the last five years and population displacement due to insecurity in the north-east.

He said it also took into consideration the likelihood of the spread of the virus to other neighbouring countries and population immunity.

He said the response required that adequate protection be provided to vulnerable children at risk of infection.

“Report from the investigation carried out by our team, revealed that both cases came from security compromised areas of Borno state, which have had limited access to any form of health services including immunization since 2012.

“The case reported in Jere LGA was from a child who had arrived at the IDP camp in Maiduguri after trekking for two days following the provision of an escape corridor by the military authorities.

“The second case was detected in Gwoza LGA. where their health facilities have been destroyed by insurgents and accessibility was a barrier to service provision,’’ he said.

Adewole said Nigeria needed to be proactive to ensure all eligible children are vaccinated within the shortest time so as to limit the spread of the virus.

He further said that there remained a high risk of further spread of the virus due to population movement within and around the state.

He said that vaccination of children had commenced in accessible areas of Gwoza, Jere, Maiduguri Municipal Council, Bama and Mafa LGAs.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Defence to provide security for the health workers during the house to house immunization and also to provide timely information on security and accessibility situation in Borno state and its environs.

“Also plans are underway to reinforce and intensify immunization of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia,’’ he said.

Adewole said that adequate supplies of vaccines have been provided at different International Port Health locations and airports.

“Mindful of the malnutrition amongst recently liberated population, the Nutrition Department in the FMoH will closely work with the Response Team in Borno to provide nutritious meals alongside Oral Polio Vaccines to the targeted children,’’ he said.

NAN recalled that the minister on Thursday confirmed the outbreak of two cases of wild polio virus in Borno.

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