By Chioma Obinna & Olayinka Latona
As Lagos State began another round of polio immunisation exercise, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has declared the state polio-free from April 2009 to date.
Also, the state government has appealed to parents and care givers to ensure that all children under the age of five years receive polio vaccine during the forthcoming immunisation exercise, taking place from January 27 to 30, 2011.
Addressing newsmen on the commencement of the exercise in Lagos, WHO’s representative in Lagos, Mr. Charles Korrir, said the 262 acute flaccid paralysis, AFP, cases discovered in Lagos were negative to polio which, makes the state free from polio throughout the period till date.
Korrir who also testified that Lagos has almost addressed all the challenges facing immunisation coverage in the State acknowledged that the state is making tremendous progress in polio eradication.
Addressing journalists on the preparation for the three days exercise in Lagos, the Lagos State Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris further explained that it is of great significance that the state recorded its last outbreak in April 2009 and that there has been no case recorded since then to date.
Idris stated that never before in recent times has there been such great and even infectious, optimism that Nigeria may very well be exiting the unenviable ‘PAIN Club’ (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria) that constituted the major exporters of the disease to the world.
Idris who maintained that immunisation remains the most cost_effective strategy in disease prevention and health promoting services stated that the immunisation campaign would involve house_to_house, transit and fixed post teams.
His words, “The house_to_house and transit components of these teams will administer only OPV to children aged 0–59 months irrespective of their immunization status. They will encourage the eligible children in the houses to visit the immunization posts for the other antigens which will be offered to such children based on their immunisation status.”
Idris further intimated that the responsibility of ensuring that every child is immunized should not be that of the parents/care givers alone particularly since it rests on everybody including politicians, councilors, traditional leaders, and religious leaders to take full responsibility in ensuring that every child in their community receives all the necessary polio and other scheduled immunizations.
The Commissioner said that all of these efforts at the national, state and local government area levels have led to the lowest outbreak of polio in the country in the last five years resulting in the reduction of cases of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) from 388 cases spread across 27 States in Nigeria in 2009 to 18 cases spread across only seven states in 2010.