Nigeria making progress towards polio eradication goal: May National Immunization Days (NIDs) critical to polio fight
Abuja, May 2005 – As Nigeria launches the third round of National Immunisation Campaigns in 2005, a recent expert review of Nigeria’s polio eradication programme reaffirmed that the country is making strong progress towards the end 2005 goal of stopping polio. The committee reinforced the critical importance of the upcoming National Immunization Days to ensure Nigeria reaches the target. All children under five must be immunized during Nigeria’s third National Polio Immunization Campaign which starts on 14 May and ends on 17 May. Although Nigeria continues to have cases of poliovirus, to date 73% of the cases in 2005 are concentrated in five states in the northwest. To date in 2005, Nigeria has 78 cases of polio in 18 states compared to 125 cases in 25 states at the same point in 2004.
Stopping the wild polio virus transmission in Nigeria is more than ever crucial to achieving the global eradication of polio.
Commenting on the results of the expert review Health Minister Professor Eyitayo Lambo reiterated the Government of Nigeria’s commitment to protecting the health of the Nigerian child, and in particular from vaccine preventable disease like polio. ‘Nigeria is making strong progress towards our collective goal of stopping polio and the Government of Nigeria remains committed to pulling out all stops to ensure children are protected from diseases like polio,’ said Professor Lambo. ‘However it is also the collective responsibility of every Nigerian to ensure that every child in every single household is immunized during NIDs.’
Dr Dere Awosika, Chief Executive of the National Programme on Immunization reinforced the importance of reaching every child with multiple doses of oral polio vaccine. “I know that some parents have been wondering why we have so may rounds of immunization. In fact it is absolutely necessary that children get repeated immunization to fully protect them against polio. A child who is not immunised a repeated number of times could still be crippled by polio. To stop polio in Nigeria, we must build a wall of immunity to fully protect the Nigerian child from polio. This can only be achieved through multiple doses of oral polio vaccine.”
From 14th May, as in previous rounds, nearly 140,000 vaccinators will go house-to-house to immunize every child under-five years across Nigeria. Nigeria’s polio eradication programme is reaching out to more children in more wards and districts more often than any other and is laying the groundwork for addressing other important health challenges, including routine immunization. ‘Together we have a role and responsibility to ensure that not one child is missed in any ward every child is immunized by the vaccination teams by promoting the importance of immunization within our communities, workplaces, schools, and families,’ said Professor Lambo.
The World Health Organization underscores the importance of continued vigilance. ‘Although Nigeria is making significant progress towards stopping poliovirus transmission and reaching more children during immunization campaigns, there are still too many missed children,’ said Dr Mohammed Belhocine, WHO Country Representative. WHO reinforced the importance of further improving the quality of the immunization activities, through improved implementation at the ward level. ‘It is only through improved planning at the very grassroots level will we find each and every child.’
Mr Ayalew Abai, UNICEF Nigeria’s new Representative, emphasized the protecting the health and wellbeing of the Nigerian child. ‘Every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong. It is the right of every to be protected from all diseases to which there is a known cure, including polio,’ said Ayalew Abai. ‘We have the real possibility to ensure no child will never again know the crippling affects of polio. We are very close to the goal and we need to stay focused, push through and win this fight for the Nigerian child’.
Nigeria’s Polio Eradication Programme is led by the National Programme on Immunization (NPI), together with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, USAID, and Rotary International. The polio eradication coalition includes donor governments of Canada (CIDA) the United Kingdom (DfID), Japan (JICA), and the European Union, humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations (e.g. the International Red Cross) and other partners.
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Notes to editors
National Immunization Days in Nigeria
Remaining National Immunization Days