Nigeria re-affirms commitment to polio eradication

Nigeria re-affirms commitment to polio eradication

Brazzaville, 4 September -- Nigeria has re-affirmed its commitment to the global goal of polio eradication and announced three rounds of national immunization campaigns between this month and the end of 2004.

"The Federal Government of Nigeria hereby states its continued commitment to polio eradication through national ownership and strengthened partnerships", Nigeria's Health Minister, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, on Friday told the 54th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa meeting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

He said that the immunization exercise planned for 6 to 9 September would be conducted in eight highly-endemic States of Nigeria harbouring 81% of the wild poliovirus in the country. Another round of vaccination is planned for 8 to 9 October, and the last for the year will take place from 20 to 23 November.

Five National lmmunization Days (NIDs) and one Sub-National Immunization Day would be conducted in 2005, Prof. Lambo said.

He stated that although reaching 40 million children under the age of five was a huge challenge for his country of more than 130 million people, "through concerted efforts of government and partners, we had, by 2002, reduced the endemicity of wild poliovirus to eight of 36 States and the Federal capital territory, Abuja, and to 21 out of the 774 local government areas (in the country)."

The suspension, in 2003, of immunization in parts of northern Nigeria especially in Kano State over vaccine safety controversy, has been blamed for the resurgence of wild poliovirus and the re-infection of a number of previously polio-free countries in the region.

The suspension was lifted early last month.

Stressing that the setback experienced during 2003-2004 "is now history," the Minister said: "The good news is that the Nigerian government at all levels, following the resolution of this impasse, has redoubled its commitment to the eradication of the wild poliovirus and (contributing to) achieving a polio-free world."

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