The Federal Government plans to immunise 41 million children against polio before the end of the year as part of efforts to ensure complete eradication of the virus in Nigeria by 2017, Health Minister Isaac Adewole said.
The minister told newsmen in Maiduguri that the goal was to ensure that polio was eradicated in Africa by next year.
He said that similar immunisation would take place in neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Central African Republic as part of joint effort to ensure the eradication of the virus from Africa.
He added that “our target is for Africa to be free of polio by 2017.
“We have an elaborate ring fence immunisation that is going to take place not only in Nigeria, but also in Niger, Chad , Cameroon and the Central African Republic.”
He explained that the Federal Government plans to conduct five rounds of immunisation against polio before the end of December.
He said that “in Nigeria, we are planning five rounds of immunisation; we have done one in the immediate area, where we immunised about 800, 000 children.
“We will do another round of four states to 18 states and go back to do another round of 18 states.
“By December, we will have immunised nothing less than 41 million children under five years of age in Nigeria.”
The minister pointed out that the discovery of wild polio virus in Borno was a great setback on the country’s journey toward final eradication of polio, stressing that “we thought that we had overcome polio, un fortunately between July and now, we detected four new cases.
“One case of polio alone is unacceptable, because it is equal to an outbreak.”
He, however, said that the discovery of the virus in the liberated communities from boko haram insurgents were was not totally unexpected.
He then commended President Muhammadu Buhari for providing all the support needed in the fight against polio.
He also commended the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners for their support in the anti polio campaign.
He said “we want to thank the WHO, UNICEF and all these organisations for their support and partnership in the fight against polio.”