WHO Representative reaffirms commitment to Polio Eradication in Nigeria

The Representative of the World Health Organization, Nigeria, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz has reaffirmed the commitment of WHO to support the on-going polio eradication initiative in Nigeria. Dr. Vaz gave this assurance during a courtesy call paid to him by the Chair of The Rotary Foundation, Mr. Dong Kurn Lee and other Rotary International dignitaries.

Speaking during the meeting, Dr. Vaz conveyed his gratitude to Rotary International’s support to polio eradication adding that the historic progress made so far in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative could have been difficult without the support of Rotary International.

He expressed optimism that Nigeria can stop polio transmission by the end of 2014 and recalled that the country was recently certified free of guinea worm.  Dr. Vaz stated that Nigeria has made tremendous progress towards interruption of polio transmission. Only one (1) case of wild polio virus was isolated in the country, in Kano state which represents an 89% reduction in 2014 compared to same period in 2013. He emphasized that key to the progress being made on polio interruption in Nigeria has been institutionalization of accountability framework by Government and partners to ensure that personnel deliver as expected with appropriate actions being taken based on performance.

The Representative explained that WHO is committed to continue providing technical support to the government of Nigeria at the national, state, local government areas to reach every eligible child to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases in general and polio in particular. He emphasized the need to continue to benefit from current polio infrastructure to strengthen the entire health systems in terms of surveillance, laboratory capacity, procurement, supply and management among others.  

Dr. Vaz pointed out that despite the progress made, onerous challenges and threats exist. These challenges include limited access to security compromised areas in the North-east Nigeria, prevailing low routine immunization coverage in some states, surveillance gaps in some areas, ongoing outbreaks in neighbouring countries among others.

In his remarks, Chair of The Rotary Foundation, Rotarian Dong Kurn Lee expressed his appreciation to WHO Country Office in Nigeria for its contribution towards polio eradication despite daunting challenges. 

Mr. Lee who assured that Rotary International will continue to support polio eradication as the global organization look forward to polio-free world, was accompanied by the Rotary International past President, Rotarian Jonathan Majiyagbe, Past District Governors, Rotarians Dr. Kareem Mustapha and Felix Obadina among other Rotarians from Nigeria and the United States of America.