WHO hands over a Toyota Hilux to boost surveillance activities of the Ministry of Health in the final steps towards certification of Nigeria as a Guinea Worm Disease free country

In a ceremony that took place at the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja on 15th July 2011, the acting WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. David Okello, handed over a Toyota Hilux pick-up 4-WD vehicle to the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor C.O. Chukwu, ably represented by Dr. Mansur Kabir, Head of Public Health Department at the Federal Ministry of Health, to boost Guinea worm disease (GWD) surveillance activities in Nigeria. Dr. Okello remarked that the donation is a symbolic but significant event in support of GWD surveillance pursuant to meeting GWD certification criteria which include three key parameters - monthly surveillance reports from all health facilities nationwide, investigation of all rumors of Guinea worm disease within 24 hours and increased public awareness for the reward for GWD reporting. Dr Okello also reminded the Honourable Minister of the commitment he made in Atlanta in February 2011 to improve GWD surveillance and increase awareness for GWD reporting.

The Honourable Minister in his speech welcomed everybody and especially the WR, for his tremendous commitment to the Health sector in the short period that he has been in Nigeria and WHO’s instrumental support to Nigeria in general. The Minister further stated that he ‘will personally ensure that all requirements for Nigeria’s certification as a Guinea Worm free country’ [as per WHO’s certification standards] are met by ‘providing the necessary support to the Nigeria Guinea Worm Eradication Program.’ The Honourable Minister went on to say that a guinea Worm free Nigeria will pave the way to focus on other pressing health issues the country is facing.

Nigeria has not reported any case of Guinea worm disease since November 2008 (32 months). For Nigeria to be eligible for certification as a GWD free country, it needs to show evidence of satisfactory surveillance and zero case report for three consecutive calendar years.