$195m shortfall in funding hampers Nigeria’s fight against polio eradication
*Fresh cases reported in 3 states
By SOLA OGUNDIPE
FRESH facts have emerged that Nigeria’s polio eradication drive is being confronted by a $195.83 million shortfall in funds to meet up operational costs and procurement of doses of the Oral Polio vaccine, OPV, for the 2012-2013 National Immunisation Plus Days, NIPDs, and sub-National Plus Immunisation Days, SNIPDs, just as six fresh cases of the wild polio virus have been recorded in Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto states bringing the total number of polio cases in the country so far for 2012 to 83.
A report by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, GPEI, shows that although $300 million is required for operational costs and procurement of oral polio vaccines for four rounds of NIPDs and nine rounds of SNIPDs during the 2012 -2013 period, the shortfall was being incurred because some of the donor partners were yet to confirm their counterpart funds.
The GPEI which is being spearheaded by Nigeria and several other agencies, including the WHO, Rotary International, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and UNICEF, had expressed worry over the sustained mixture of operational and social factors confronting Nigeria’s polio eradication programme, causing many children in the country to be missed in key geographic areas and population groups.
Meanwhile, six fresh cases of the wild polio virus transmission were reported in Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto states. Vanguard gathered that in the wake of numerous operational issues including insecurity and funding gaps, that are making the northern states of Nigeria a challenging place to fight polio, the Federal Government is exploring the possibility of implementing the success story of India, which has been polio-free since January 12, 2011, to try to turn around the situation of the polio eradication.
Although the Federal Ministry of Health declined to comment on the development, Vanguard gathered that lessons from the Indian experience are to be fully integrated in Nigeria, with the possibility of allocating relevant technical support to further boost the planning and monitoring of the upcoming National Immunisation Plus Days, NIPDs.
In line with this, Indian surveillance medical officers would be on ground to provide technical support during the immunisations and state-wide mop-up exercises to be conducted September 15-18, 2012 in 219 “poor performing” wards of the most wild polio virus-prone states including Taraba, where wild polio virus type three cases were discovered recently.
As part of the measures to ensure the success, dates of the next National Immunisation Plus Days, NIPDs, have been shifted to 29 September-2 October. Similarly, in the key affected areas, plans are on to scale up geographic information systems (GIS) technology to more accurately monitor vaccination teams, engage traditional leaders, integrate new staff capacity, and, target activities including to reach Nomadic populations, and further assess approaches to reach hard-to-reach population groups and areas.
According to a new Report by GPEI: “Three new positive environmental samples were reported, including a wild polio virus type 3 from Kano – the first wild polio virus type 3 detected through environmental sampling in the country; and, it is the first wild poliovirus of any serotype detected in the Kano environmental system, since environmental sampling was introduced in 2011. The other two samples detected were wild polio virus type 1 from Sokoto.”
As of the end of the first week of September 2012, Nigeria remained the only country in the world with circulation of all three serotypes: wild poliovirus type 1 and type 3 and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2).
Katsina which had reported 16 cases of wild polio virus type1 since May 2012, more than any other state in the country. Katsina now accounts for 40 per cent of all wild polio virus type1 cases in Nigeria since May 2012 with at least one-third of children under-immunised in the state.
Interruption of the remaining poliovirus transmission in Nigeria was declared an emergency by the World Health Assembly in 2010, and in response, the Federal government set up the National Polio Emergency Action Plan with recommendations to ensure 80 per cent of High Risk States and Local Government Areas (LGAs) achieve at least 50 percent OPV coverage in all high risk LGAs, meet the two main AFP surveillance indicators and attain zero orphan virus detection.
In its February 2012 report, an independent monitoring Board singled out Nigeria and Pakistan as countries with gravest risk to polio eradication.
In the first half of 2012, 61 children in Nigeria were paralysed by polio as opposed to 24 at the same point in 2011, when more than 95 per cent of all cases occurred in the eight most endemic states in the northern part of the country.