Disease Outbreak News

Polio Eradication: Nigeria on the verge of History - ERC

The immediate feedback from the just concluded 27th Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio and Routine Immunization in Nigeria has revealed  that the country ‘ is on the verge of making history by eradicating polio, the entire nation must be made aware, rallied and mobilized to capitalize on this unique window of opportunity’.

Dr. Hamid Jafari, the WHO Director of Polio, who presented the preliminary findings of the ERC after the 2-day intensive meetings and deliberations, conducted with stakeholders in Abuja from 23rd-24th April, 2014, posited that it ‘is the most important ERC meeting to date because the hard work and dedication of the program have yielded a window of opportunity’ not only for Nigeria but Africa and indeed the world.

To achieve success, the experts noted that. ‘maintaining program progress during the election season, continued accountability and improvements in SIAs quality and access to children in insecure areas will be essential to stopping WPV in Nigeria in 2014’.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the ERC,  Professor  Oyewole Tomori cautioned against early celebrations since as he observed, historical antecedents have taught the programme to be wary of electioneering seasons  because ‘national elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011 have caused distractions in anti-polio activities as commitment, advocacy and funds dry up or are diverted to other uses’.

However, the Executive Director of the Primary Health Care development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Ado Mohammed assured   that with the unprecedented progress made in polio eradication in the country and ‘learning from the past experiences, we are being proactive in such a way that at the sub-national level we will continue to ensure that the commitment at the state, local and community levels are in tune with the Federal Government’s’.

Also at the ERC meeting, the WHO Country Representative for Nigeria, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, drew attention on the need to further intensify cross- border immunizations based on the threat of importations from neighbouring countries and charged the ERC to ‘define the main priorities with recommended timelines to enable the Presidential Task Force and National Polio Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to develop a plan on how to implement the final recommendations.