By Gabriel Olawale
LONG before Nigeria attained one year polio-free status, Bauchi State was ahead of the national level in the polio campaign having gone 25 months without a case of the Wild Polio Virus, WPV, infection and 35 months without any case of the Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus, CVDPV.
Efforts by the State government to maintain this success, included the release of N80 million of the N160 million counterpart fund contribution for routine immunisation by Governor Mohammed Abubakar to ensure 99 per cent supply of polio vaccines in all the wards, set up quick response teams, re-strategise to enhance coverage and upgrade its supervision system.
The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, one of the key partners that ensured this polio free record in the state is commited to focusing on the hard-to-reach areas and employment of community-centered strategies designed to reach every child, gain local trust and ownership.
The Deputy Chief of the USAID project, Dr Halima Mukaddas said prior to their operation in the State five years ago, they observed peculiar problems including lack of accessibility to vaccines by vulnerable children, conflict, and collective rejection of the vaccine.
USAID quickly aligned with the state government’s commitment to keep polio out of Bauchi State in the face of influx of internally displaced people from other states.
“USAID, through its Targeted State High Impact Project, TSHIP identified some of these challenges and employed a community-centered strategy designed to reach every child and gain local trust and ownership. The project supported the State Ministry of Health, and Local Government Area officials, enlisted community heads from every ward to personally educate households on the benefits of child immunisation.”
Halima disclosed that highly regarded traditional leaders, including the Emir of Dass, were involved in door-to-door campaigns, while the ministry and LGS officials conducted up to 10 immunisation plus days with emphasis on house-to-house delivery of routine immunisation to all children regardless of previous vaccination status every year.
“From its first year, the programme trained and engaged teams comprised of polio eradication officers, polio monitors at local government and ward levels, community health workers, and traditional birth attendants who we deployed to high-risk areas. The project facilitates surveillance through the teams, which identify and report any suspected case of polio. The project also enlisted partner’s to monitor cross-border transmission of polio form neighboring states.
In 2008 and 2009, 85 and 95 percent, respectively of all new cases of polio reported in Bauchi and the six states contiguous came from Bauchi, but by end of 2010, when the programme support began, there were no cases of polio in the state.
Uptil the end of 2014, there were no reported cases of polio in Bauchi, while Kano, Jigawa, and Yobe States reported a total of 18 new cases.
USAID through TSHIP and partners helped the state intensify surveillance and maintain community sensitization. As of August 2015, Bauchi State had no reported cases of polio for 26 continuous months.