Governors stave-off Polio importations in renewed commitment

 Governor vaccinating a baby with OPV Governor vaccinating a baby with OPV

In 2013, Nasarawa and Niger States in the North Central region of Nigeria commonly referred to as the ‘Middle Belt’, given their geographical location on the map, had importation of the wild polio virus (WPV) each from endemic states after several months of stopping transmission. Since then, political commitment in the area has been rekindled with relentless personal commitment of State governors to protect states in the axis from re-infection through high-profile activities to create visibility for the Polio Eradication Initiative.

To drive the position deeper, the Nasarawa state Governor, His Excellency Umaru Tanko Almakura, who made history as the first Governor since the creation of the State eighteen (18) years ago to Flag-Off April round of the National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs), declared that this ‘is a continuation of the fight against polio and control of other communicable diseases in the state’. 

The occasion afforded the governor the opportunity to deliver a 2-pronged message to parents’ to cooperate with the vaccination teams by ensuring that all eligible children are immunized with safe and effective vaccines as well as admonished health workers to demonstrate more commitment and dedication in ensuring that all houses and locations were visited with no child missed at the end of the campaign.

In a related development, the deputy Chief Servant and deputy Governor of Niger State, His Excellency, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto also flagged-off the NIPDs in Minna with a clarion call to all Nigerians to rise up to the challenges of polio eradication with stronger determination to stop transmission in 2014 in order to extricate Nigeria from the poor showing of the polio endemic countries.

Alhaji Ibeto disclosed that the state organized the flag-off to demonstrate the collective resolve of the government and people of Niger towards ensuring the eradication of poliomyelitis and other vaccine preventable diseases, thus ensuring that the people live healthy and qualitative lives     

Expectedly, citizens turned out en masse to be a part of the flag- off ceremonies at both venues amidst pomp and pageantry while traditional and religious leaders, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), WHO and UNICEF, field staff were in attendance. 

The Governor of Nasarawa State summarized the importance of NIPDs when he ended his address in Hausa language with “RIGAKAFI YA FI MGANI (prevention is better than cure)’ 

It is instructive to note that the political leaders organized these ceremonies on the eve of political electioneering activities which confirms their prioritization of polio eradication in their respective states.