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Polio survivors narrate ordeal as colleague launches book, comic movie


POLIO1Polio survivors have cried out to the government to fulfill its promise of ensuring a better life through provision of employment and transportation.

Speaking at the launch and official presentation of the anti-polio animated movie/comic book authored by Olugbenga Johnson Kuye, in Lagos, one of the survivors, Mr. Dibo, who is unhappy with their present state, expressed that they are privileged to have survived the disease and begged the government to intervene in their problem so as to have a good life like every other first class citizen.

According to him, “We are privileged to be among the living. It is not an encouraging situation. Some of us are faced with the problem of unemployment and it is not easy for us at all especially when we are boarding vehicles, we always need a helping hand. We beg the government to fulfill their promises to us so that we can make ends meet.”

In the same vein, another polio survivor, Yekini Salau, a father of three, who was inflicted with the disease at the age of three, said that their condition is very painful but at the same time happy that none of his children is affected with the disease.

“I am happy to be a survivor of this paralyzing disease. It can be very painful to be seen in this condition. We envy people walking on the street with their two legs. To trek, wear shoes, walk around the house is a challenge” he said.

Olugbenga Kuye the founder and coordinator of Polio Rescue Association lost his limbs at the age of three due to the deadly and lethal virus. He said that walking is debilitating and painful. Because of his experience as a child with polio case and various encounters both within and outside his college walls, he dedicated his life to the noble cause of the campaign against polio.

According to him, it is the single largest virus that claims responsibility for the deformity and incapacitation of our children.

Kuye wrote: “This is one side of its evil effects. If there remains a boy or girl from the remotest village in the north, south, east or west who can not live full life; get good and qualitative education, get lucrative job, marry and participate in nation building because of polio infection, then to that child and all of us of this great country, polio still exists as a social menace and a barrier. This also must be eradicated.”

The founder went ahead to say that there is need for this advocacy to be carried out in the north because the last case of polio in Nigeria, as stated in a paper work, was reported some months ago in a 16 months old boy from Sumaila, Local Government Area (LGA) in Kano State.

He further endeared all to organise and support the programme, work together, supports vaccination as well as vaccinate their children to drive far the virus from our state.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Nike Oduwole, lauded the author for taking the bold step in intensifying and eradicating the crippling disease. She added that the governor values this enormous step and would support to see that the country be certified free from poliovirus by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2017.

Ambode added: “In whatever you do, never forget to thank God because it has been His grace that we have come this far. Do your best in contributing to the service of mankind and your country, because life is essential.”

Speaking also at the programme, the Managing Director, The Guardian Newspaper Limited, Mr. Emeka Izeze, who was represented by the Assistant Editor (Head Insight Team, Science and Technology), Mr. Chukwuma Muanya, in his presentation on The Role of the Media in Attaining Polio-free Certification in 2017 and Maintaining a Polio-free Country Afterwards, noted that journalists were engaged by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and other international agencies in the monitoring of immunization activities and for advocacy.

Nigeria launched an “all-out” effort, with focused attention, resources and activities on the remaining polio strongholds of the country, particularly the northern states.
Muanya added that special approaches were developed in the security compromised areas, including a focus on reaching the internally displaced populations. The formation of the Journalists Initiatives on Immunisation Against Polio (JAP) resulted in measurable improvement in the acceptance of polio vaccine in northern Nigeria.

JAP is a Nigerian non-profit, non-governmental organization, which uses advocacy, mass media and interpersonal communication to empower people to adopt healthy lifestyles and behavioural patterns. Its network spans the high-risk Northern Nigerian states of Kebbi, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Niger, Gombe and the Federal Capital Territory. Its members are local journalists and they are dedicated to promoting polio immunization programmes as well as increased routine immunization services in Nigeria.

Muanya added: “It is no longer news that if everything goes as planned, Nigeria, which was delisted as polio endemic nation in August 2015 would be declared polio free in July 2017.

“But what is pertinent, according to stakeholders in the fight against polio, are what must be done to maintain the tempo of not recording any case of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) beyond 2017.”

He added: “To end polio and finish the job, the stakeholders led by the NPHCDA, the GPEI, the WHO, Rotary International and UNICEF recommended among other things high quality surveillance and vaccination campaigns.”

Muanya urged residents to improve on hygiene and commit their children into polio vaccination.

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