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I’m optimistic Nigeria will achieve polio-free status in 2020 — NPHCDA chief

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Polio, Tiwa Savage immunising a child against polio.
Tiwa Savage immunising a child against polio.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has expressed optimism that Nigeria will be declared polio-free by 2020.

Shuaib said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday.

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According to him, with the level of work done so far, Nigeria is optimistic about achieving a polio-free status in 2020.

“The members of the African Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are finally here to review Nigeria’s preparedness for polio-free certification by June 2020.

“It has planned two field verification visits.

“The first is to the Southern States from Dec. 9 to Dec. 20, and the second is to the Northern States from March 2, 2020, to March 13, 2020,’’ he said.

Shuaib said that the hard work of front line polio workers at the Federal level and the 36 states had come under scrutiny, adding that Nigeria was anxious to exit and be free from polio.

“We are committed to that. I can assure you that this issue of polio is a top priority,” he said.

The executive director said that NPHCDA and the partners were grateful as ARCC started a two-week process of polio certification exercise in Nigeria.

He said that ARCC team would be conducting field visits with regards to polio eradication activities in some health facilities in selected states in three zones in southern Nigeria during phase one and in three zones in northern Nigeria during the phase two.

The NPHCDA boss said that the team would also be providing recommendations and feedback for further improvement of the complete national documentation.

He said that to support the country in the preparatory process, the ARCC team had promised it would ensure that the national complete documentation prepared by the country met ARCC required standards.

Shuaib said that in their planned activities for 2019-2020, ARCC had scheduled Nigeria to prepare and present the national complete documentation during the June 2020 meeting.

He, however, said that not only Nigeria was close to being free from all types of wild polio, adding that Cameroon, Central African Republic and South Sudan remained to be certified.

Shuaib said that the countries including Nigeria were expected to finalise their documentation by June 2020.

NAN reports that a statement by WHO said the independent commission had already accepted the documentation of 43 African countries as part of the process to certify the African Region free from all types of wild poliovirus.

According to the report, only Cameroon, Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Sudan are yet to be certified polio-free.

The WHO said no wild poliovirus had been detected anywhere in Africa since 2016.

It added that the last wild poliovirus caused paralysis was detected on Aug. 21, 2016, in Nigeria, while the last environment sample with traces of the wild poliovirus was detected in Kaduna State from a sewage sample collected on May 5, 2014.


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