Towards the global celebration of Polio eradication, as October 24 of every year is set aside for enlightenment campaign on the disease to further curb the spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to formally pronounce the delisting of Nigeria as a polio endemic country before President Muhammadu Buhari.
In expressing the great importance attached to the event, which is scheduled for the State House next Monday, the country will be hosting the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, who will be represented by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso R. Moeti.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, in an interview with P.M, he said that the Regional Director will meet with Mr. President to formally announce to the Government of Nigeria the WHO’s decision to remove Nigeria from the list of Polio endemic countries, as a recognition of the immediate achievement of Nigeria in stopping the transmission of the Wild Polio Virus for a period of fourteen months, which has exceeded WHO’s target for interruption.
The Regional Director, Dr. Moeti, is also expected to emphasize to policy makers and major stakeholders, that despite tremendous progress in Nigeria, complacency is not a luxury at the disposal of the Government and partners until the gains of this great feat is sustained for two years to be able to achieve the certification of Nigeria as a Polio-free nation by 2017.
In order to boost population immunity of children between the ages of zero to five years, as well as achieve eradication status in 2017, Nigeria will continue to vaccinate children, irrespective of their previous immunization status.
It will be recalled that on 25 September 2015, WHO declared Nigeria Polio free, which implies that polio is no longer endemic in Nigeria, and this is the first time that Nigeria has interrupted transmission of wild poliovirus, bringing the country and the African region closer than ever to being certified polio-free.
Presently, only two countries -Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still battling with the polio virus.