Home News FG reconstitutes 12-member Polio Expert Review Committee

FG reconstitutes 12-member Polio Expert Review Committee

by Haruna Gimba

By Zayamu Hassan

The Federal Government has reconstituted the Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio and Routine Immunisation with a vow to strengthen the country’s health system, in order to prevent the importation of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) into the country.

Speaking at the 38th meeting of the Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria in Abuja, the Executive Director of the National Primarry Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said the meeting marked the beginning of the tenure of the new ERC which is headed by Prof Akin Osibogun.

The reconstituted 12-member ERC chaired by Professor Akin Osibogun, a public health expert, has members drawn from the academia, the media, donors and development partners – including WHO, CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Others are; Prof. Dorothy Esangbedo, Prof Shuaib Bello, Prof. Clara Ejembi, Prof.  Sade Ogunsola, Prof. B.S.C. Uzochukwu, Prof. Ilayisu Zubairu, Dr. Muhammad Dallatu, Mr. Mannir Dan Ali, Dr. Steve Cochi (CDC), Mr. Aidan O’Leary (WHO) and Jay Wenger (BMGF). 

The last ERC meeting was held over two years ago during the eve to Nigeria and African Region’s certification of WPV free.

Dr Shuaib, however, expressed concern over the spread of the circulation Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV2) in many states of the country.

“The cVDPV2, has been a major concern during the last ERC meeting, and today the outbreak has snow-balled to even greater proportions to become one of the greatest challenges the country has faced in the polio programme, apart from the recent detection of Wild Polio Virus type 1 (WPV1) in Malawi in February, and WPV 3 report in Israel this March.

“This brings it very close to home that it is not over until it is over. The report from Malawi indicates that we must strengthen our system in order to avoid an outbreak of WPV in Nigeria,” he noted.

He, therefore, applauded the ERC for providing the NPHCDA with the guidance on how to contain cVPV2 spread, which, according to him, has unfortunately now spread more to affect 29 states of the federation and FCT, including states in the Southern zones of the country.

“One of this guidance was the use of novel Oral Polio vaccine (nOPV2) which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of cVPV2.

“So, far all 36 states and FCT have completed at least two rounds of nOPV2, 18 states have completed at least four rounds of nOPV2 Outbreak Response, 3 states have completed three rounds, while an additional 16 states have completed at least two rounds of nOPV2 Outbreak response.

“Our surveillance system has remained robust despite the global COVID-19 pandemic that had a negative impact on the health system.

“In 2020, our surveillance had picked and detected 22 cases of CDVPV2, in 2021, 1027 cases and in 2022, 11 cases have already been detected.

“Although the figures may look scary, it is a demonstration that our surveillance system is effective, reliable and also means that if there is a Wild Polio Virus in circulation, it would have been detected,” Dr Shuaib said. 

Speaking, the new Chairman of the ERC, Prof. Akin Osibogun, said that the reconstitution of the ERC was to urgently map out strategies to prevent the importation of WPV type 1 from Malawi to Nigeria.

He explained that: “The objective cut for this committee is essentially to advise on strategies to prevent re-introduction of wild polio virus in Nigeria and end the circulating vaccine derived polio virus in Nigeria through strengthening of the immunization programme, AFP surveillance, community mobilization and advocacy, environmental monitoring and other appropriate strategies.

“I am confident that with this assembly of experts on the ERC, we will be able to achieve our goal which is to ensure all eligible children are reached irrespective of their location in the country. “

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1 comment

Vivian Ifeoma Ogbonna March 15, 2022 - 17:54

Way to go.


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