Speaking at a ceremony at the presidential villa in Abuja to mark that polio is no longer endemic in the country, the president expressed his happiness and vowed to maintain the status. The president also stated that the government will do their best to protect these gains and ensure that polio does not return. He has promised to increase surveillance and immunization to completely eradicate the disease by 2017.
The president said: “It is with great pleasure that I receive you and your team today on this very happy event,marking more than a year in which no polio case was reported in our country. For 14 consecutive months,Nigeria has not recorded any new case of polio virus. This, as I had been briefed, is the first step towards certification of Nigeria as polio virus free country by WHO in the next two years.
This achievement, I recall, also resonated at the 70th UN General Assembly when the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, mentioned it. I therefore commend WHO for their consistent steawardship in Global Health Security As you are aware our, effortsto to eradicate this crippling disease started in 1998.It has taken a lot of toll on our country in terms of human and material resources.
We are however not relenting as we are determined to achieve our collective goal of saving our children from further paralysis from polio. I want to assure you that there will be no complacency, as we will maintain and improve on our surveillance system as well as raise the childhood population immunity against the polio virus to avoid any spread of the disease.
The federal government will sustain the current momentum and we shall continue to regard this campaign as an emergency until we are declared polio free in the next two years. I would like to reiterate the federal government’s commitment towards the achievement of a polio free Nigeria in 2017. The Government will sustain the needed funding for operations and vaccine procurement for the programme.
Also, the Presidential Task force on Polio Eradication will be reconstituted under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to provide political direction and oversight in order to avoid complacency and relapse. I would like to place on record my recommendation for the vaccinators, community mobilizers, partners, parents and caregivers who have supported the polio eradication initiative of Government through the years.
I would like to commend the support of our traditional and religious leaders who have contributed immensely to the polio eradication efforts. By the same token we thank development partners, particularly WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, US-CDC, Rotary International, and a host of others who contributed financially and materially to the over-all efforts.”
It would be recalled that Rotary International has released N 1.38 billion ($6.9 million) to Nigeria as an encouragement for the country to stay free of polio disease. As recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. Since then, a concerted effort by all levels of government, civil society, religious leaders and tens of thousands of dedicated health workers have resulted in Nigeria successfully stopping polio.
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