By Chioma Obinna
A member of Rotary International’s Africa Regional PolioPlus Committee, Marie-Iréne Richmond Ahoua, has called on African governments to maintain high quality diseases surveillance in order to protect the fragile gains made on polio eradication, adding that “no cases of polio have been reported in Africa since August 2014.”
Addressing African Union first ladies recently on why they should support efforts geared towards the total eradication of the polio virus in Africa expressed confidence that with the progress attained so far, polio will be kicked out of Africa.
She further recommended that governments must also strengthened routine immunisation coverage as well as ensure the vaccination of every child and support the rapid introduction of Inactivated Polio Vaccine.
“We have vastly improved our ability to detect cases and respond to outbreaks when they occur. There are more laboratories and more trained health workers than ever before. We have found new ways to reach every child with the polio vaccine. That hard work has brought us to the threshold of a polio free Africa, and has taught us lessons we are using to address other critical health priorities. For example, lessons and resources from our polio eradication activities have even been used to address the Ebola outbreak.” She stated.
She however, posited that it was too soon for Africans to celebrate as long as wild polio virus circulates anywhere, children remain at risk everywhere.
“All of us here today play a vital role in taking the collective step across the threshold to a polio free Africa. As first ladies you are in a unique position to set a public example. Women look up to you. Your public statement of support for polio and other immunization activities helps build trust and confidence. I have experienced this first hand in my own country. “I invite you to do what you can to support a polio free Africa. In doing so, you will leave your fingerprint on the history of your own country and of the world. You will provide a gift to the children of today and forevermore,” she charged them.