STOP 44 to Nigeria receives Induction: Technical and Administrative issues top agenda

WR, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz with STOP team volunteers and facilitators
WR, Dr. Rui Gama Vaz with STOP team volunteers and facilitators

Abuja, 08 July, 2014 - The Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program started in 1998 with the primary aim to strengthen acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance, support national immunization days, and conduct polio case investigation and follow-up. These activities remain today but the program has grown to include strengthening routine immunization, measles mortality reduction, supportive supervision, and strengthening the Integrated Disease Surveillance program.

Nigeria is one of three endemic countries that include Afghanistan and Pakistan where transmission of the polio virus has never been interrupted. The country has recorded significant progress in the last two years.  As at week 27 in 2014, Nigeria has 5 cases in 2 States compared to 32 cases in 9 States same period in 2013 representing 85% reduction in polio cases and 79% reduction in geographical spread and infected states. The genetic clusters of the WPVs circulating in Nigeria have also reduced by 88%. A total of 8 were circulating in 2012 compared to 1 circulating in 2014. However, there has been an increase in the number of circulating vaccine derived polio viruses (cVDPVs) from 1 case in 2013 in 1 state to 12 cases in 2 states in 2014. The bulk of the cases 10/12 (83%) are in security compromised State of Borno that has not conducted any tOPV round for 2 years owing to the killing of vaccinators in March 2013 during Supplemental Immunization Activity (SIA) that was eventually cancelled.

In July 2014, 34 STOP team members arrived in the country to boost the Nigerian program and help in the interruption of polio virus in the country.  These international STOP team members come from various countries which include Afghanistan, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana and India. Other countries include Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

STOP team members arrived in the country on a 5 month mission, attended a 3 day in-country orientation. The orientation was preceded by a welcome address given by the World Health Organization Representative for Nigeria, Dr Rui Gama Vaz, in company of UNICEF Communication Focal point, who represented the UNICEF Representative at the opening ceremony and Mr. AJ Williams of the CDC.

In his opening remarks, Dr Vaz requested the STOP team members to ensure that they strengthen the capacity of the national teams at all levels during their assignment. This he observed would be a positive legacy in the polio eradication history. He also urged them to focus on reviewing the micro plans for the forthcoming round of IPDs as well as subsequent ones, strengthen Routine Immunization and AFP surveillance including IDSR, while ensuring high data quality.

The orientation included presentations on administration and finance, travel and protocol, security, status on AFP surveillance, routine immunization, data management, monitoring of supplemental immunization activities, and what is expected from the team members in the field.

The government of Nigeria along with its partners including WHO, UNICEF, and CDC have clearly stated the importance of interrupting transmission of polio virus in Nigeria by December of 2014.  The STOP members have been assigned to very high risk areas for polio transmission in Northern states and where the underserved and non-compliance communities are problematic.

________________________________________________________

For further information:

Dr. Richard Banda, TO/Epidemiologist
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it