Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has confirmed an outbreak of wild polio virus (WPV) in Borno State.
This comes barely a year after Nigeria was declared a polio-free country.
Business Post recalls that on September 25, 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Nigeria was free of polio disease.
But on Thursday, Prof Adewole confirmed that the resurfaced polio outbreak has affected two children from Gwoza and Jere Local Government Areas (LGA) of the State.
According to the Minister, this discovery was as a result of strengthened surveillance due to improved accessibility which has been made possible by the recent military action in liberating more communities in the North-Eastern part of the country.
He said the detection of children paralyzed by polio shows that surveillance has increased with more access but it is a reminder that the country needs to remain vigilant and immunize all eligible children with polio vaccine until polio is completely eradicated worldwide.
Prof Adewole said, “Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease.”
He directed the deployment of a national emergency response team, comprising government and partners to Borno State for immediate and robust polio vaccination campaign, targeting eligible children to prevent the spread of the virus locally and internationally.
The Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunized in four local government areas in Borno State.
Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunized bringing the number to about five million in the four states.
Prof Adewole reiterates the Federal Government’s commitment to achieving a polio-free Nigeria and assures the general public that this outbreak will be controlled as soon as possible adding that government will provide the needed resources to contain it.
He therefore called on other states and local governments to redouble their efforts by safeguarding their territories from importation of the virus by providing the required leadership and ensuring accountability among healthcare workers and other stakeholders.