Nigeria marks two years without polio

Ben Adam Shemang, Abuja

Nigeria has been jubilating that for the last two years, there has not been a single case of polio in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari says in a statement he personally signed that “the next major milestone for us as a country is the certification of polio-free status in 2017 by the World Health Organisation”.

“Today marks two years since the last case of wild poliovirus was reported in Nigeria. I congratulate all stakeholders that have made this historic achievement possible and those who have worked tirelessly to maintain the effort and permanently halt new polio cases in the country”, he said, stressing that Nigeria is cooperating with international public and private partners to ensure that Nigerian children do not suffer from this crippling disease again.

He said there is the need to collaborate towards ensuring that polio moves closer to extinction in Nigeria and by extension on the African continent and directed the Federal Ministries of Health and Information and National Orientation to reinvigorate their strategies in concert with State governments, to ensure our certification by 2017.

He said his administration remains firm in its commitment towards making this a reality by continuing to support in every way possible, routine immunization and the revitalization of primary health care system.

President Buhari added that he will continue to do his best to ensure timely release of funds required for polio eradication programme.

“The good health and well-being of Nigerian children remains an important part of our drive to national development. We have demonstrated our strong commitment in this regard with the allocation of N12.6 billion in the 2016 budget for vaccines and programmes to prevent childhood killer diseases such as polio, measles, yellow fever and others,” jubilant leaders said.

The president expressed the hope that families, religious and traditional leaders, will play their parts well, to make next year a reality, when WHO will formally declare Niger Polio Free Nation.

Before now, the World Health Organisation classified Nigeria India and Pakistan as the countries with the worst cases of polio but a year ago Nigeria was delisted as a polio endemic country and by this time next year, if there is no case of polio, Nigeria will be declared polio free nation by WHO.

“I thank our development partners particularly WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, USAID, US-Centre for Disease Control, Rotary International, and a host of others who contributed financially and materially to this effort. Together we can achieve our vision to make polio a thing of the past”, President Buhari concluded.