By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma. Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS— The Minister of Health, Prof.Isaac Adewole, yesterday, confirmed an outbreak of wild polio virus, WPV, in Borno State.
This is coming after Nigeria celebrated two years without a case of polio.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has directed the deployment of a national emergency response team, comprising government and partners to Borno State for immediate and robust polio vaccination campaign targeting vulnerable children to prevent the spread of the virus.
According to the minister, the outbreak affected two children from Gwoza and Jere Local Government areas of the state.
He attributed the discovery and confirmation of the outbreak to the country’s strengthened surveillance due to improved accessibility made possible by the recent military action in liberating more communities in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The Minister said: “The detection of children paralyzed by polio shows that surveillance has increased with more access but it is a reminder that the country needs to remain vigilant and immunize all eligible children with oral polio vaccine until polio is completely eradicated worldwide.
“Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease,” he added.
The Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunized in four local government areas in Borno State. Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunized bringing the number to about five million in the four states.
Adewole reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to achieving a polio-free Nigeria and assures the general public that this outbreak will be controlled as soon as possible, adding that government will provide the needed resources to contain it.
He further called on other states and local governments to redouble their efforts by safeguarding their territories from importation of the virus by providing the required leadership and ensuring accountability among healthcare workers and other stakeholders.
It would be recalled that in 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, but the country has made significant strides in recent years, going two years without a single case.
This progress has been as a result of concerted efforts by all level of government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders as well as dedicated health workers.