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Nigeria: Health agency official says polio cases "drastically" reduced in 2009

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Jun 14, 2009 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) — [Report by Nathaniel Jonah: “‘Wild Polio Virus Has Reduced in Nigeria'”]

Nigeria’s battle against the wild polio virus (WPV) is beginning to yield some fruitful results as Cases of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in Nigeria have declined drastically from over 700 in 2008 to 64 as at the last count in 2009.

This was disclosed by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate at a special presentation to the 2009 Annual Session of the UNICEF Executive Board held at United Nations Secretariat in New York where he also said that the number of children who never had Polio Immunisation which is known as zero dose has reduced from 16 per cent in 2008 to 8 per cent in 2009.

In a statement made available to Sunday Trust and signed by the agency’s head of public relations, Saadu Salahu, the Executive Director also revealed that the level of participation and involvement in polio eradication by state governors, local government chairmen, traditional and religious leaders and state task forces had increased very significantly with greater prospect towards interruption of polio in Nigeria.

According to him, “there has been a significant reduction in the number of zero-dose children in highest risk states such as Kebbi, Borno, Jigawa and Kano states. The number of local governments with more than 10 per cent of missed children has equally declined from 87 local governments in January to 53 local governments in March, this year.”

Not only that, the number of local governments infected with Wild Polio Virus type 1 has declined from 21 cases in 15 local governments in January to only 7 cases in 7 local government s as at April, this year. Dr Pate also commended UNICEF, WHO, Rotary Plus International and other Development Partners for their support to Nigeria on polio eradication and reiterated Nigeria’s total commitment to interruption of Wild Polio Virus throughout the country.

The director highlighted a number of challenges being currently faced by Nigeria in her anti-polio campaign. One of them, he stressed, include the number of states recording both type 1 and 3 polio cases which has increased from 21 states in 2008 to 26 states in 2009 while noting that the high cases of missed children still prevalent in Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger and Yobe States. He, however, emphasised on continued advocacy to sustain high level involvement of governors and council chairmen, technical support to high risk states and intensification of in-between campaign immunisation activities in highest risk local governments as part of the way forward.

In another development, , the Federal Ministry of Health through National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in collaboration with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is set to organize a one-day workshop for members of Northern Traditional Rulers on Polio Eradication Initiative, Routine Immunisation and Revitalisation of Primary Health Care.

Sunday Trust learnt that the workshop which is in recognition of the crucial role of the traditional rulers as key partners to the success of President Yar’Aadua’s commitment to total eradication of polio and strengthening of primary health care system in Nigeria is to be chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, mni, while the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin will deliver a keynote address,

It will be recalled that four countries globally still harbour the Wild Polio Virus (WPV), while Nigeria has the largest cases of the disease and the only country in Africa harbouring the wild polio virus cases, with the Northern part of the country being the greatest.

Source: Daily Trust website, Abuja, in English 14 Jun 09

BBC Mon AF1 AFEauwaf 140609/mj

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