The Chief Medical Officer, National Polio Emergency Operations Centre, Andrew Etsano, yesterday, said Nigeria has witnessed a 50 per cent reduction in wild polio cases as at the third quarter of 2013. Announcing this, Mr. Etsano in an agency report observed that “as at August 16, 2013, Nigeria confirmed 43 wild polio virus in nine states compared to 86 cases in 11 states for the same period in 2012.
“So we can say we have 50 per cent reduction in polio cases and over 80 per cent particularly in states where there are security challenges.” He listed the states as Kano, Yobe, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Benue and FCT. He said that strategies had been put in place to ensure that the country did not witness polio case again; assuring that every child would be reached with vaccine. Mr. Etsano said the agency had deployed additional personnel for its operation to improve team performance and enhance supervision and “concurrent monitoring’’. He also said other measures included the enforcement of accountability at all levels and better field-based micro planning.
According to him, the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) in mapping of settlements and tracking of vaccinators as well as polio survival groups to enhance community mobilisation had been introduced. “We have entrenched into the immunisation system what is known as accountability framework, which means people will be held accountable for their failure, inability, action or inaction,” he said. Also, Ado Muhammad, the Executive Director of the agency noted that the country was making appreciable progress in reducing polio through aggressive public enlightenment. According to him, parents now voluntarily bring out their children forvaccination following such awareness.
Mr. Muhammad said the agency had made it a priority to ensure that vaccines with injectable devices were made available. He said the agency had also introduced vaccines such as Pentavalent and Med-A to improve immunisation. Pentavalent vaccine is a combination of five vaccines-in-one that prevents diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B through a single dose. “We are making progress because fewer children will be dying from preventable diseases, more children will be reached for immunisation and we are reducing the number of unimmunised children by 51 per cent,” he said. Mr. Muhammad said the Federal Government prioritised immunisation through adequate funding for the exercise, adding however, that more funds were still needed to buy more vaccines.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on August 29, 2013.