Barely 11 months since Nigeria was declared free of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV), no fewer than 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory have reported outbreak of the Circulating Vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), the National Primary Health care agency said on Monday.
The agency noted the continuous spread of this virus in these states not only have health implications, but it is an indication that the WPV free status which Nigeria attained in August 2020 is under threat.
The Global polio Eradication Initiative defines cVDPV2 as a form of polio which often occurs due to low immunization rates within communities. It noted that the virus can mutate and take on a form that can cause paralysis just like the wild poliovirus.
Faisal Shuaib, executive director, NPHCDA, speaking at the second Quarter Review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care(PHC) delivery listed the states to include, Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.
The ED regretted that a high number of children were missed during the conduct of Outbreak Response strategies (OBRs) using the Novelle Oral Polio Vaccine; adding that the COVID-19 pandemic also affected immunization programme.
He said, ” 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.
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.”
While noting that donor funding for Polio has reduced drastically, Shuaib called on the northern traditional leaders to advocate to Political leaders on the need to continue to fund Polio Outbreak Response campaigns and mobilize citizens for the OBR campaigns and other subsequent rounds of the Polio vaccination.
Sa’adu Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto in his remarks reiterated that Nigeria is not out of the woods even though certified WPV free. He decried the
Abuabakar, who was represented by the
Chairman, Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Immunization on PHC
Samaila Muhammad Mera, the Emir of Argungu, said, “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 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.”
The sultan further regretted that in addition to this scourge, RI coverage is very poor and cases of maternal mortality are still unacceptably high in Northern communities.
UNICEF country Representative, Peter Hawkins, noted that nearly 2,000 children who die daily as a result of low immunization, and urged Nigerian authorities to sustain routine immunization .
On COVID-19, Hawkins commended Nigeria on its pace of vaccination, noting that the country’s vaccine administration is phenomenal.
According to him, Nigeria is leading among lost COVAX countries.
As Nigeria awaits delivery of another batch of vaccines between July and August, the country representative urged authorities to begin preparations to ensure successful roll out of the next batches of vaccines.