By CHIOMA OBINNA
ANEW global report on polio has shown that Nigeria has made considerable progress toward polio eradication in the last 18 months.
According to the report published in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, MMWR, , since late November 2013, no Wild PolioVirus 3 cases had been reported for more than a year.
The report also showed that the geographic extent of WPV transmission appears to no longer include the western-most states, and the number of WPV cases reported through September 2013 (49) was half that was reported during the same period in 2012 when about 101 cases were reported.
It further stressed that improvements in the quality of Supplemental Immunization Activities backed by effective outbreak response holds the key to interrupting wild polio virus transmission in Nigeria this year.
The progress may not be unconnected with the government reactivation of an emergency operations center and implemented a national emergency action plan to eradicate polio in 2012 and also the 2013 revision of the plan which resulted to the improvement of quality of supplemental immunization activities among others.
The report maintained that despite these successes, continued WPV1 transmission in Nigeria was still a threat to global polio eradication and must be addressed urgently, particularly as the country enters the relatively low WPV transmission season (November-April).
It further stressed the need for a comprehensive immunisation strategy and improvements in campaign implementation as well as increased community demand for routine immunization to reach all un-immunized children in the country.
To address anti-polio vaccination sentiment and the threat of violence, it recommended social and community mobilization activities which provide opportunities for community leaders to engage and become advocates for the protection of children against the acquisition of poliovirus.