By Asma’u Ahmad
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said no single child in the country had been paralysed by the wild polio virus in the last 24 months.
The Executive Director of the Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaibu, disclosed this during the quarterly meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Committee (NTLC) on primary health care delivery. Shuaibu said that the quarterly meeting was to assess the progress made not only around immunisation, but in the area of primary health care as a whole.
“Today, there are conversations around progress we continue to make to eradicate polio. This is unprecedented; this is the first time ever in our existence that we have gone two years without a single child being affected by the polio virus.
“This is a huge improvement in our health indices and if this persists for the next 12 months, then we will have a situation where the World Health Organization (WHO) will look at all the information that is available, and then begin to consider Nigeria as having eradicated poliomyelitis, once and for all.
“We could not have gone this far without the collaboration of the traditional leaders because they have the support of our community members. They have gone from village to village to build confidence and assure community members that it is safe to take oral polio vaccine,” he said.
According to him, that is why we are wrapping up everything with them to ensure all kids get the vaccine needed to have the best health. He said that there was the challenge of insurgency in the North-east region which was the only reason why Nigeria had not eradicated polio.
Dr Faisal said with the establishment of the National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordinating Centre at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, they had been able to coordinate great efforts in ensuring immunisation coverage.
“You will recall that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its weekly meeting approved $150 million to support primary health care, to support routine immunization.’’
According to him, all of these are unprecedented in the history of the country. Shuaibu noted that there had not been such a huge investment in the health sector until now, saying that the country’s best days were ahead in terms of health care delivery.
The Chairman, Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on PHC Delivery (NTLC), Shehu of Bama, Alhaji Kyari Ibn Umar El-Kanemi, commended other traditional rulers for the support they had been giving to the eradication of polio virus in their domains. “I am glad to know that NTLC members are being increasingly relied upon to drive all health and other development programmes. This reflects the recognition and appreciation by our people and government.
“We must, therefore, not rest on our oars as it is a divine responsibility bestowed on us by the almighty God to protect our
people. Therefore, I urge you to put in all efforts especially in the area of advocacy, mobilisation and resolution of any outstanding case of refusals,” he said.
El-Kanemi said that there was the need to work more closely with religious leaders to examine the opportunities available during mosque and church programmes to make immunisation a way of life for the people.