By Dipo Olowookere
All six states in the South West Zone (Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti) have completed the ‘2nd Outbreak Response’ (OBR2) to the circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV2) with varying degrees of success.
The exercise, implemented from June 15 – 24, 2019, was in response to confirmed reports by the Lagos State government of environmental strains of Polio Virus in Makoko, Itire and Maracana canals, as well as in Imeko Afon LGA of Ogun State.
Initial large-scale zonal supplementary immunization activities were coordinated across the states, during the OBR1 conducted from May 18 -21, 2019.
Polio eradication teams on the ground covered 89,841 settlements. The teams maximized the impact of available resources and ensured that oral polio vaccine be administered to 9,927,112 under-five year old children in all the states.
Early planning to prevent spread across borders
In Ogun state, which shares an international border with Republic of Benin, a series of planning sessions with representatives from Republic of Benin involving, traditional leaders, religious leaders, Port Health service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Customs, Military and the police ensured every eligible child was reached.
During one of the meetings, a counterpart from the Republic of Benin, Dr Bonny Potoku, who is the Secretary General to the inter-border forum in Ipokia (Nigeria) and Igolo (Republic of Benin) border commented, “The time is ripe for the reactivation of our own port health services seeing the amount of resources and commitment from the Nigerian side”.
His position was echoed by former Ogun Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye who said, “Deliberate efforts were being made to target border communities, who are more susceptible to outbreaks due to the migration of people”.
In Nigeria and the Lake Chad sub region, a cVDPV2 outbreak originating in Jigawa state, Nigeria has spread to eleven other states and internationally to Niger Republic and Cameroon.
Initial success build on lessons learnt Speaking on the outcome of the response in Ekiti state, an elated Permanent Secretary from the state Primary Health Care Board Mrs. Bisi Arogundade, said about the exercise; “OBR-2 has been highly successful and impactful. It built on the lessons learnt during the first round.
Government, traditional rulers, partners and other stakeholders have been supportive. I therefore was not surprised at the outcome of the exercise and sure the state will work towards sustaining the achievement”.
In Ondo State, Dr Francis Adegoke Akanbiemu, Executive Secretary, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, expressed the administration’s appreciation on the quality of the coverage. In a letter of appreciation sent to the WHO State Coordinator, he indicated that, “On behalf of the Executive Governor, I appreciate and thank the World Health Organization for the immense support, both in logistics and technical support during the just concluded second round of outbreak response exercise in the state. Without the support, the exercise would have been of less success”.
Support for Polio eradication in Nigeria through WHO, is made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID – UK), European Union, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Government of Germany through KfW Bank, Global Affairs Canada, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Community Chest Korea, KOFIH (Korea), Rotary International and the World Bank.
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