By LAJA THOMAS
It is very embarrassing that wild polio is still very endemic in Nigeria and the challenge before us is that we shouldn’t be the last to kick polio out of our country”. That was how Dr. Kamoru Omotosho, the District Governor, Rotary International District 9110, comprising Rotary Clubs in Lagos and Ogun states, opened a Polio Plus orientation workshop at the Rotary Centre, Ikeja, Lagos last week.
Dr. Omotosho who spoke on the theme: “We shouldn’t be the last” lamented the embarrassment the polio scourge has caused Nigeria.
“ India has been able to achieve that milestone, yet we are still one of the unfortunate countries being affected by polio. The enormity of the problem is that it is a big challenge, which we must address. It is in our hands to do it,” he said
He identified lack of political will and inadequate funding as reasons for non-eradication of polio in Nigeria. Said he: “It is a shameful thing because there are some people benefiting from the funds governments appropriated for the eradication of polio. And these people don’t want Nigeria to be free of polio because they benefit from the system.
It is not just for humanitarian reasons but selfish reason as well. I hope these people are aware that if they refuse to channel the funds appropriated for the eradication of polio to the beneficiary, it may spread to other parts of Africa. I am happy to say that we have been able to break the lack of political will syndrome because every critical stakeholder on the polio scourge has been brought on board so that our country can be polio free”
The Chairman of the District Polio Plus committee, Dr. Lanre Soyinka, whose address was titled, “Last lap of polio eradication in Nigeria, ‘The lingering pain’ and the way out’” stated that the polio scourge is a burden on Nigeria
“The burden is how do we breast the tape of polio eradication in Nigeria which as of today we are the worst culprit. We are responsible for three quarters of cases in the world and 90 per cent in Africa. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries left and we are saying we must not be the last,” he said, adding that “ we all know that pains are not palatable at all, especially when it lingers or looks as if it is beyond what the doctors can solve.
We all at a time have had this nasty experience. Moving from one doctor to another, even to orthodox doctors, we also at this time remember our creator by crying loud to Him for relief/cure. This afternoon, we are the patients and also the doctors. All of us have the pains-lingering on and what is the lingering pain? Stop the transmission of polio virus in Nigeria.”
He added that, “in pains, the family and well wishers of the sufferers are also worried. Our Parent Rotary International is worried. We re all worried. As patients we are worried because of its excruciating pain and as doctors we need a conference for a radical approach to solving this problem. We cannot afford to lose the confidence of our clients. Quoting the words of the immediate past Rotary International President, Kalyan Banerjee, he said: “We know polio can be eradicated and our success in India proves it,”
A former Acting Governor, Busuyi Onabolu, who is a member of the National Polio Plus Committee, enjoined Rotarians to work towards the eradication of polio in Nigeria. He said, “the programme which is being funded by Rotary International began last week in Abuja.
It is a Rotary initiative which started since 1979 and has spanned over 25 years. Polio has been eradicate from every other part of the world. The challenge was that Nigeria is the only country in Africa and the third in the world, aside Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio is still endemic,”.
According to him, “nobody believed India can eradicate polio, but they have done it. Therefore, Rotary International is sounding a wake up call to Rotarians to rise up to the challenge. This is no longer time for talk, this is time for action. We must ensure that we clear all our gutter and drainage regularly and keep our environment safe because the scourge is spreading, especially to places like Lagos and Ogun states.”