President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that polio is no longer endemic in Nigeria.
Buhari, who was delighted by the announcement which followed the absence of any case of the wild polio virus in Nigeria since July 24, 2014, applauded the concerted efforts of government officials, health workers, volunteer groups, civil societies, religious leaders, traditional rulers and international partners which resulted in the historic achievement.
The president, in a statement yesterday by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, urged continued vigilance to ensure that Nigeria maintains the new status.
He also directed all government ministries, departments and agencies involved in the polio eradication effort to remain proactively engaged and on guard against the re-emergence of the polio virus in Nigeria.
Buhari assured the WHO and the global community that the federal government will ensure that immunisation and surveillance activities continue across Nigeria to keep the country polio-free.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the public-private partnership leading the effort to eradicate polio, called this a ‘historic achievement’ in global health.
As recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. Polio, which can cause lifelong paralysis, has now been stopped nearly everywhere in the world following a 25-year concerted international effort. Polio remains endemic in only two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO said, “The outstanding commitment and efforts that got Nigeria off the endemic list must continue, to keep Africa polio-free. We must now support the efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan so they soon join the polio-free world.”
Also, Dr Ado Muhammad, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said, “We Nigerians are proud today. With local innovation and national persistence, we have beaten polio. We know our vigilance and efforts must continue in order to keep Nigeria polio-free.”
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