The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has praised traditional rulers for the crucial role they played in the eradication of the polio virus in the country.
The Executive Director of the agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the commendation at the 3rd quarter meeting on routine immunization toward polio eradication, held in Lafia on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by Northern Traditional Leaders Committee(NTLC) on Primary HealthCare.
Shuaib said that the crucial role played by traditional rulers in the eradication of widespread polio in the country could not be overemphasized.
He added that the involvement and commitment of the traditional rulers helped persuade Nigerians, especially rural dwellers across the country, to embrace immunization against the disease.
“There is no way we would have been there on widespread polio eradication if it wasn’t for the leadership provided by his eminence and other traditional rulers.
“It was their support that helped us in the fight against polio.
“We were finding it hard for several years until the NTLC was formed and provided leadership to the communities because you are an integral part of the communities.
“And because of that, we were finally able to make the kind of engagements required to fight polio,” he said.
He said that the traditional rulers contributed immensely to the efforts toward the eradication of the disease that for almost two years the country did not witness a single polio virus case anywhere until in 2016 when the disease broke out in two local government areas of Borno.
“Since the outbreak, we have done an outstanding job of containing the virus.
“So until we have full access to those two local governments, we can only continue to count how many months we have gone without a single case,” he said.
He also commended the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, for debunking claims that polio vaccines were poisonous.
He warned Nigerians, especially, politicians spreading the allegations to stop toying with the health of Nigerians for political and selfish gains.
“I also thank his eminence for adding his voice to clearly denounce detractors who want to link immunization or health services to politics.
“That is something we will never do.
“At NPHCDA, because we have the mandate to provide immunization service to the populace, we hold that responsibility very dearly.
“We hold it as a public trust we can never betray.
“It pains us when people try to mix immunization with politics. It should never happen,” he said.
The NPHCDA chief also commended the Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Umaru Al-Makura, for providing exemplary leadership in the health sector through the provision of adequate funding and other forms of support aimed at strengthening the health sector in the state.
“Without a shadow of doubt, the executive governor of Nasarawa state has a really performed well in providing leadership in the health sector.
“We have visited some primary health centers that are been built and renovated and we have seen what the data shows when it comes to providing healthcare to his people.
“So what he is doing is really commendable,” he said.
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus occurring especially in the spinal cord and brainstem.
The disease leads to muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes deformity. In about 0.5 percent of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to a few days.
Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person through infected fecal matter entering the mouth.
It may also be spread by food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva.
Newsmen report that the NTLC on Primary HealthCare was formed eight years ago by His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar to proffer ways of eradicating polio and other communicable diseases especially in Northern Nigeria.