Fed Govt worried over vaccine-derived polio outbreak in Lagos, FCT, Rivers, others

The Federal Government yesterday expressed concern over the outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in 14 states across the country.

The states are: Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It stated that sub-optimal performances recorded in the affected 14 states due to a high number of missed children during the outbreak response (OBR) could affect how the country is able to bring the outbreak under control.

The government urged stakeholders to protect the milestone the country had achieved in the eradication of polio.

Nigeria was certified free of the wild poliovirus (WPV) in June, 2020, by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication (ARCC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, announced these at a meeting on COVID-19 vaccination and the second quarter review of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on primary health care in Abuja.

He said: “This year has been a challenging one due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected all areas of our lives, including immunisation programme.

“Nigeria, as we are all aware, has been certified WPV-free by the ARCC. However, there are cases of cVDPV2 in some states, hence the need for us as a country to jealously guard our WPV-Free status and stop the cVDPV2 transmission in our communities.

“Your highnesses, as at today, we have cVDPV2 outbreaks in Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, FCT, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara, and we have conducted four OBRs using the Novelle Oral Polio Vaccine, which is a preferred choice as it doesn’t seed the virus.

“However, sub-optimal performance has been recorded in all the states due to high number of missed children during the OBR. This poor quality will affect how we are able to bring this outbreak under control.”

Dr. Shuaib urged traditional leaders to use their affinity with political leaders to continue to fund polio outbreak response campaigns, since donor funding for polio has reduced drastically.

The Chairman of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Immunisation and Primary Health Care and Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammad Mera said: “We commend and appreciate the efforts of UNICEF Nigeria office for the good working relationship we enjoy with you and your state representatives who consult and engage with us for effective mass mobilisation and education of our people, which is critical to our mandate.

“It is true Nigeria is certified polio-free. We are grateful to God and proud individually and collectively for the roles we played in support of our government and all stakeholders to achieve the feat.

“However, the reality is that Nigeria is not out of the woods as cases of CVDPV2 continue to spread, even in states that have been polio-free for nearly seven years.

“Added to this is the scourge of COVID-19 and the challenges of educating our people enough to create demand and acceptance for the vaccine. Lest we forget, routine immunisation coverage is very poor and cases of maternal mortality are still unacceptably high in our community.”

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