To make this year’s commemoration of World Polio Day a memorable one, members of the Rotary Club of Gbagada, District 9110, Nigeria, in a carnival-like style stormed the ever busy and densely populated Gbagada community in their numbers to sensitize residents on the need for eradication of poliomyelitis through vaccination and giving support to victims.
Cladded in a special outfit for the campaign, the President, Rotary Club of Gbagada, District 9110, Rotr. Akinwale Odutola, hinted on the reason for the awareness walk, noting it was to create additional avenue for acquainting the public with vital information about polio and the efforts of the Rotary Club to ensure the country exit the list of polio endemic nations.
Expressing the delight of Rotary Club of Gbagada, District 9110, Nigeria, to celebrate this year’s WPD with the people at the grassroots, he said it was an opportunity to give support to victims of the second most deadly disease in the world, which has globally left millions disabled and pulled many people further into poverty.
However, Odutola noted that the reason for holding the awareness campaign in Gbagada community was because of its vast population and also, being an area of the state with great numbers of all the ethnics in Nigeria, adding that the choice of the area was strategic as it is the host community of the campaign.
Odutola further stated that Nigeria has been delisted by the World Health Organization from among three countries where polio remains endemic, adding that If Nigeria is eventually given a clean bill, Afghanistan and Pakistan will remain the only countries where the disease is still endemic.
Speaking in the same vein, Pharm. Gbenga Olubowale, former chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos State Branch, who also doubled as the chairman, Rotary Committees, Rotary Club of Gbagada, Lagos, District 9110, noted that Nigeria which had assumed a pariah status in the global polio eradication community, because it was single-handedly responsible for half of the global incidence of polio, today, due to the efforts and commitment of Rotary and its partners, has gone three years without polio.
According to Olubowale, “It is good to agree that Nigeria passing the three-year benchmark without a single wild polio virus case is a step forward to certifying the entire African region wild poliovirus-free, but it must be noted that the achievement is a very fragile one which the country must delicately manage with cautions so that we do not go back to square one,” he warned
He added that routine immunization coverage and quality surveillance remain most critical in the build up towards certification and post certification. He however warned that there could be as many as several new cases of polio in the next 10 years, if efforts to combat the deadly virus are not sustained.
“Talking about the level of awareness, it is better here in the south than the north, so we still have a lot to do as far as awareness creation is concerned. Meanwhile, one good thing that we have working for us is that we as Rotarians have taken the bull by the horn in terms of awareness creation. Also, Rotary Club Gbagada, District 9110, has been at the fore front of the campaign. Beyond attaining the zero level of polio, we need to continue working and ensuring that the campaign never stops”, he advised.
Also speaking, Rotr. Kemi Akintilo, president, Inner Wheel Club of Gbagada, said the celebration marks a major milestone in the history of Nigeria’s Polio Eradication Programme as the country reaches 3 years without reporting a case of wild poliovirus.
“We at Inner Wheel Club are supporting Rotary to ensure that as women, our fellow women are all informed and aware of what to do to ensure that polio is kept at bay. The children should be encouraged to be immunized and ensure that the message is communicated to all. Polio, to a certain extent is known by people and they are ready to kick it out. We are happy with the level of awareness and we are hopeful that if it continues, polio will no longer be a threat to us in this country.
According to her, the objectives of Inner Wheel Clubs, which is a female wing of the Rotary Club is to promote true friendship, encourage the ideals of personal service and to foster International understanding, saying any woman who share those aims can join Inner Wheel.