Dar es Salaam, 12 December 2012 -- Nigeria, the only polio-endemic country in Africa, has outlined its strategies to interrupt wild polio virus transmission in the country by 2013.
The strategies were outlined in a presentation made by Dr Mahmud Mustafa Subaru of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency at the fourth Annual Regional Conference on Immunization in Africa which ended on Wednesday (12 December) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The strategies rest on a tripod of: improved quality of campaigns for Supplemental Immunization Activities (SIA), strengthened Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance and routine immunization.
Elements of the improved quality of SIA campaigns component of the strategies include house- based micro-planning (to find missed children and settlements); outreach to nomadic populations; the use of nomads in vaccination teams, and strengthened programme management.
In the area of strengthened programme management, the thrust of the strategy include better motivation for vaccinators and the engagement of more personnel especially by WHO (2,202) and UNICEF (1827). Others are the introduction of an accountability dashboard to monitor key indicators, the use of operations research, the establishment of a Polio Emergency Operations Centre and use of Geographic Information System tracking to monitor teams.
On routine immunization, Dr Mahmud said that efforts were made to use evidence-based communication in stimulating demand for immunization in communities.
According to Mahmud, one of the most crucial elements of the current polio eradication strategies in Nigeria is political commitment at the highest level - - from the President of the Federation to State Governors and traditional leaders.
Dr Mahmud concluded: “With improvement in program management especially accountability and political leadership support and oversight enjoyed from the top, Nigeria is optimistic of interrupting transmission by 2013.”
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