By SOLA OGUNDIPE
MINISTER of State for Health, Dr. Mohammad Ali Pate led a delegation of Nigerian scientists to join other experts from more than 80 countries from around the world to endorse a comprehensive new eradication strategy to end polio from the surface of the Earth by 2018.
Members of the delegation that signed the Global Declaration On Ending Polio include former Health Minister, and Co-Chair, Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, International Pediatric Association, Professor Adenike Grange, and President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Oyewale Tomori.
Nigeria is one of the last three countries in the entire world where the wild polio virus is still circulating. Others are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
With just 223 new cases due to wild poliovirus recorded in 2012 – an historic low and a more than 99 percent decrease from the estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 – and just 16 new cases reported so far in 2013 (as of April 9), it is widely believed that the world has a unique window of opportunity to eradicate polio once and for all.
The declaration’s launch coincided with the 58th anniversary of the announcement of Jonas Salk’s revolutionary vaccine.
The declaration calls for full funding and implementation of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Speaking at the event, Tomori noted: “Nigeria has made great progress in the fight against polio, but the challenges remaining are strong and require a comprehensive solution.
“By setting out a long-term plan that pursues all of the necessary strategies in unison, the plan builds a framework that we can rely on to ensure that all of the world’s children are protected.”