Buhari Vaccinates Granddaughter, Vows To Eliminate Polio
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has declared that his administration will do all within its powers to ensure that no Nigerian child is ever infected with polio again.
The President personally vaccinated one of his grandchildren against polio to underscore his determination.
Speaking at a brief event at the State House to mark Nigeria’s successful completion of one year without any reported case of the Wild Polio Virus, Buhari pledged that the Federal Government would mobilize and deploy all necessary resources to efficiently complete the task of eradicating polio from the country.
“Today, (yesterday) July 25, 2015, Nigeria has successfully completed one year without any case reported of the Wild Polio Virus. Achieving this feat has placed us firmly on the path to eradicating this paralyzing disease from our land.
“I seize this opportunity to call on governors, traditional and religious leaders, the private sector and our mothers and fathers to redouble their efforts, to ensure that every child and every new born baby is vaccinated with the polio vaccine and other life saving routine vaccines,” Buhari said.
He thanked all Nigerians and foreign partners who have supported the country’s polio eradication programme in several ways, saying that he looked forward to the formal declaration of Nigeria as a polio-free country in 2017.
The Nigeria National Polioplus Committee (NNPPC), at the weekend, also celebrated one year without a case of polio in the country, with the symbolic planting of a tree.
“In Nigeria, we are one year polio free, which the tree planting symbolizes. We need to continue to water it, to ensure that in the next two years, we do not have any cases of polio and we are declared totally free of the virus,” said NNPPC Chairman, Dr. Tunji Funsho, at the venue of the event held at Polio House, Rotary Centre, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.
Meanwhile, Rotary International, District 9125 Nigeria, has congratulated Nigeria and its partners for achieving one year without the disease, adding that a lot more work still needs to be done to qualify Nigeria for the World Health Organization (WHO) certification in 2017.
Dr. Tunji Funsho said: “We are not just commemorating one year without polio case in Nigeria today, but also reminding ourselves of the need to continue to press further until Nigeria is declared totally free after two years from today.
“As long as we continue to maintain a very robust surveillance system, our children being immunized, and we ensure that any case of paralysis is picked up to ensure it is not polio, we will be saying bye to polio in Nigeria in the next two years. This is a great day of joy, and at the same time a day of anticipation for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare Nigeria a completely polio free country.”
Commenting on how much it cost Rotary International to eradicate the disease, Funsho said though, it is almost impossible to quantify, resources put together to eradicate the disease in monetary terms could confidently be put at $7.5 billion US dollars, adding that of that amount, about 200 million US dollars was expended on Nigeria alone, while Rotarians all over the world have spent millions of man-hours in campaigns.
He said: “I am happy to report that Pakistan has reduced the number of cases in that country from 306 to 28 this year. Afghanistan has followed suit by coming down from 26 cases to eight. It is coming down, and we are using the good lesson we are learning in Nigeria on these two countries that remain, just as we have taken good lesson from India and used in Nigeria, to achieve some of the results we got.”
He advised Rotarians to keep focus on advocacy with government and communities to ensure immunization continues, as well as fundraising.
“We have proved that it can be done and this will encourage our partners as well as our funders that all the resources they have put in were not in vain,” he said.
Funsho, however, warned of the danger of loosing the momentum if funding and campaign stops, saying the virus could slip in through the back door.
“We have not stopped despite challenges like confrontation with different groups including Boko Haram in the North, and cultural and religious groups, and we are determined to see polio out of Nigeria and the entire world,” he said.