President Muhammadu Buhari congratulates Nigerians over the defeat of Wild Polio Virus in the country.
Buhari also thanked partners – “local and international” who “have contributed tirelessly to this feat — we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you”.
He says “This achievement reflects the resilient spirit of Nigerians, in particular the strength and capacity of our health workers, who drew resources and support from multiple sectors to deal a final blow to the Wild Polio Virus.”
Wilde Polio Virus
Poliovirus is a class of risk 2 (or Risk Group 2 or Hazard group 2) non-envelopped RNA enterovirus. Enteroviruses are one of the genera belonging to the Picornavirus family, which are very small, icosahedral, nonenveloped ss (+)RNA viruses. Humans are the only natural hosts for polioviruses. A specific protein receptor on susceptible human cells (CD155) allows the attachment and entry of poliovirus. The virus infects cells of the oropharynx, the tonsils, the lymph nodes of the neck, and the small intestines. Infection progresses through cycles of virus replication. Once infection is established in the gastrointestinal tract, poliovirus can invade the central nervous system by penetrating the blood/brain barrier or by spreading along nerve fibres.
There are three types of wild poliovirus:
Type 1 causes paralysis in about 1 in 200 infections;
Type 2 was last recorded in 1999;
Type 3 is less virulent than type 1, causing paralysis in about 1 in 1000 cases.
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Recalling the promise his government made to Nigerians in August 2015 saying that it shall “provide the necessary resources and commitment required to strengthen the health system, routine immunization and ensure the country is certified Polio-free,” the president has loud this as a “landmark achievement.”
The Wild Polio Virus made major outbreak in Borno State, Nigeria in 2016 thereby creating major setback but today the country is celebrating almost 2 years without any case.
“This big battle would not have been won without the support of our donors and development partners including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Rotary International, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), European Union, Global Health Canada, German Development Bank (KfW), WHO, UNICEF, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Polio Survivors Group, the media, and faith-based and other non-governmental organizations.”
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“Let me also acknowledge the immense contribution of traditional and religious leaders who mobilized communities to accept the immunization program and other government programs.”
Meanwhile, Health agency, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Friday said Nigeria is still at risk of Polio epidemic as Nigeria awaits to be formally certified polio-free in August.
Its Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, spoke at a Zoom meeting to celebrate the new status with some donor partners and stakeholders in Abuja.
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Shuaib said though, the certification meant that there was no wild polio virus anywhere in Nigeria, it did not mean the work was over.
According to him, the virus can still be imported from other endemic countries.
“As a matter of fact, even, the earlier the work starts, because we have to maintain this status.”
”This means we have to continue to give our kids the vaccination that they need against the virus, and all the other vaccine preventable diseases.”
”We should not forget that we still have Afghanistan and Pakistan that are endemic for wild polio viruses, which means there is still a potential that these viruses may be imported into Nigeria.”
“We live in a global village, you can see how COVID-19 spread so fast from China, by the same token, we could have wild polio virus spread from these two endemic countries,” he said.