By Sola Ogundipe
ONE thing NigeriaÂ needs to do to actualise its dreams of polio eradication is to sustain and even improve on the current level of vaccination of children in the remainingÂ wild polio virus-endemic areas.
Billionaire philantropist and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, who gave the advice said the key to Nigeriaâ€™s continued success in the race towards polio eradication was to ensure that every child is vaccinated while ensuring theÂ virus is contained to prevent it from speading.
â€œThe goal is to getÂ the vaccination coverage up so that even if the wild poliovirus comes back into the country, it doesnâ€™t spread. When we talk about polio, the key is to have at least 90 per cent of children getting three or more doses of the oral polio vaccine,â€ he remarked.
Addressing a world press conference in Abuja during his visit to Nigeria last week, Gates remarked that continued vaccination was the key. â€œWe must have very high vaccination rates to ensure that the polio virus does not spread again We have to ensure that does not happen.
Overall, Iâ€™m very optimistic about the new progress that is being made on childhood health in Nigeria. The evidence of increased budgeting, everybodyâ€™s involvement in polio vaccination, the outreach programmes and targetted vaccines, moreÂ than before, are responsible for the optimism in the nationâ€™s promotion of childhood health.â€
â€œItâ€™s been a very successful trip and I hope the next time when I come back the progress would be equally as positive.
Gates who recalled his first trip to Nigeria in 2009 said at that time the problem with polio vaccination was very tough. â€œBut Iâ€™m happy that about 16 months sinceÂ I was last here, we can say that things have gone very well. The sum of it all is that in what we have done well, we have done better, but the real explanation is that more children are being vaccinated.