Polio Eradication: WHO and Partners applaud government on progress.

Dr. Rui Vaz delivering his speech at the Summit
Dr. Rui Vaz delivering his speech at the Summit

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has tasked Governors of the 36 states ‘to continue to provide personal leadership, in your states for the programme by requesting and reviewing monthly reports from the local government chairpersons on the progress being made in their areas’ in order to avoid complacency or relapse to the era of widespread transmission of the paralysing disease.

The President made the statement while declaring opened, the Nigeria Polio Summit organized by the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Rotary International District 9125 in Abuja on Monday, 28 April 2013 with the theme, ‘Sustaining the End Game Strategy Tempo: Polio End Game … Let’s End It Now’ .

President Jonathan, represented at the Summit by the Honourable Minister of Health Professor C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, recognized the tremendous partnerships built over the years and efforts of stakeholders in the fight against polio in Nigeria which led to the significant reduction in the number of reported cases.

Nigeria, in the last five months, recorded two cases of polio in one (1) state, compared to fourteen (14) in six (6) states for the same period in 2013.

Earlier, the WHO Representative Dr. Rui Gama Vaz, who spoke on behalf of the United Nations System in Nigeria, assured government and stakeholders of partners support. He also applauded ‘the government for the progress which has been made in polio eradication which has witnessed a 86% reduction in polio cases in 2014 compared to the same period in 2013’.

He, however, stressed on the need to sustain the improved quality of IPDs in all areas but expressed concern over growing accessibility challenges around children in security compromised areas as well as the threat of importations from neighbouring countries currently experiencing polio outbreaks.

Dr. Vaz also articulated how the infrastructure of the polio legacy will be used to reinforce surveillance and other health interventions to strengthen the entire health systems in the country.

In his contribution at the Summit, the Past Rotary President Wilf Wilkinson expressed optimism that the present commitment by policy makers and partners will heighten confidence that Nigeria will soon be polio free with the African Region next in line to be certified polio-free. He also used the occasion to urge government at all levels and the people of Nigeria to exploit the opportunities available to firmly root out polio in 2014. 

The meeting was attended by representatives of Executive Governors from the polio high risk states, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Rotarians, WHO, UNICEF, USAID, CDC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, other bilateral and civil society organizations.