By Ndidi Chukwu
As the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA) battles with the final interruption of Wild Polio Virus in the nation, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, has said the nation should not say Nigeria is polio free until it gets WHO certification by 2018.
Tomori Chairman of Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria said in its 29th meeting in Abuja that Nigeria has not gotten to the stage of being called polio free nation.
Oyewale speaking in disagreement to some media reports that Nigeria will eradicate polio 2015 said the nation is striving to ensure interruption of new infections after which it can maintain stiffer surveillance programmes to keep the record till 2018 before the World Health Organisation can officially certify Nigeria polio free.
“We have not gotten there until we get to zero level. We cannot be declared polio free until 2018 if Nigeria did not record any new case.
We are not close to being declared polio free this year, we are not going to be declared polio free in 2015, we need another 3 years to crush polio and ensure no new case before we can say we have eliminated polio” Tomori said
To maintain the speed in Nigeria towards polio eradication, which is already receiving global attention, Tomori encouraged the Nigerian Government for intensified effort to achieve the expected result. “We are encouraging intensified surveillance and monitoring to ensure that gaps no longer exist, then we will be saying goodbye to polio in Nigeria” said Tomori
“If we must interrupt polio this year, funding has to be increase, for routine immunization and we ensure that vaccines are made available at all times” Tomori maintained
Explaining further, the executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA) Dr. Ado Mohammad, said, “Interruption is one year from the last case, and eradication takes another three years, we can say we have interrupted polio by July 24th 2015 if no new case is witnessed in Nigeria, and then we begin to talk about eradication which comes after three years, without any new infection”
On its efforts toward attainment of polio interruption, Ado hinted the “Nigeria has made progress among other polio endemic country, and the whole world is looking at Nigeria to exist polio endemic countries in the world, polio and routine immunisation must go together, we have been able to move routine immunisation coverage from 22 percent in 2012 to 87 in 2014, and we are intensifying our efforts to ensure that we interrupt polio by July” Ado said