FG: Outbreak of new polio type 2 threatens Nigeria’s free status

The Federal Government (FG) has raised concerns over the recent outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in some parts of the country, just 11 months after being declared free of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for polio eradication (ARCC).

The government said at least 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory have reported the outbreak, including, Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, FCT, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA revealed this during a review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care.

The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, has now warned that the continuous spread of this virus puts Nigeria’s status as a Wild Polio Virus-free nation under threat.

Dr Faisal said the outbreak could have been the result of the large number of children missed during the COVID-19 outbreak response.

“This year has been a challenging one due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected all areas of our lives including our immunization programme.

”There are cases of cVDPV2 in some states, hence the need for us as a country to jealously guard our WPV-Free status and stop the cVDPV2 transmission in our communities.

‘‘We have conducted four OBRs using the Novelle Oral Polio Vaccine which is a preferred choice as it doesn’t seed the virus. However, sub-optimal performance has been recorded in all the States due to high number of missed children during the OBR’’

Dr Faisal urged the traditional rulers to maintain their effort of mobilising people for the OBR campaigns and other subsequent rounds of Polio vaccination.

He asked the traditional leaders to join the call for improved funding of Polio Outbreak Response Campaigns, stressing that donor support in that regard has continued to dwindle.

‘‘It is pertinent to state that donor funding for Polio has reduced drastically. We will therefore be relying on your influence in advocating to Political leaders on the need to continue to fund Polio Outbreak Response campaigns. I also wish to humbly request for your continuous support in mobilising the people for the OBR campaigns and other subsequent rounds of the Polio vaccination’’, he said.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’adu Abubakar, who spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers said though, certified WPV free, Nigeria’s Routine Immunization coverage was still very poor while cases of maternal mortality were still unacceptably high in Northern communities.

‘It is true, Nigeria is certified Polio Free, however, the reality is Nigeria is not out of the woods as cases of CVDPV2 continue to spread even in states that have been polio-free for nearly seven years.

“Added to this, is the scourge of Covid-19 and the challenges of educating our people to create demand and acceptance for vaccines.”

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