51 cases of new polio variant recorded in Nigeria, says WHO
World Health Organisation (WHO) has said 51 cases of circulating Variant Polio Virus (cVPV2) have been detected in Nigeria between January and August 13 this year.
Speaking at a retreat organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in collaboration with Sultan Foundation, for traditional leaders of inaccessible communities, WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walters Mulombo, said 47 of the 51 cases (92 per cent) are from the North West, and majority of the cases are from states with security challenges in the region.
Prominent among those present at the retreat are Kaduna State governor, who was represented by his deputy, Hadiza Balarabe; Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar III, and emirs from the 19 Northern states.
NPHCDA Executive Director (ED), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, also confirmed to newsmen the detection of cVPV2 in 28 states across the country.
While stating that NPHCDA and the Federal Ministry of Health remains steadfast in their objective: to halt the transmission of cVPV2 client by December 2023, the ED said: “Nigeria was declared polio-free in 2020 because we followed useful directives to the letter. Everyone supports ensuring that polio is eradicated. We can then use this platform to build a stronger routine immunisation and Primary Health Care (PHC) system.
“Polio, an ancient and relentless foe, has tested our resilience for decades. But we have not faltered; we have not surrendered. Together, we fought many battles until we won the war against Wild Polio Virus. Now, the time has come to overcome its counterpart known as cVPV2. We have the tools, the knowledge, the experience and the unwavering spirit to achieve this monumental task. Your leadership can accelerate our progress.”
He urged all participants at the retreat to work collectively in the fight against cVPV2, “as it requires a united front, a bond of traditional, religious and local leaders, health workers, parents and every citizen, who dreams of a polio-free future.”
The Sultan of Sokoto decried, non-implementation of strategies noting that it has adversely impacted the country.
He urged stakeholders at the retreat to match their words with action in tackling the new polio virus.
“We, leaders, do not lack solutions to problems; what we lack is implementation. We speak in beautiful languages and go back home without implementing the solutions.”
The Emir of Argungu, who doubles as the Chairman of Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care, Alhaji Muhammad Mera, said the need to convene in Kaduna with traditional leaders of inaccessible communities, regarding the new variant of polio, stemmed from reports of devastating security situation in Zamfara State, which made access to many communities and children difficult or impossible, thereby creating a risk of outbreak or Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPV), especially the mutated vaccine-derived polio virus.
He added: “Zamfara has the highest burden of the disease in the country and the strain of the virus from the state has been found in 28 states in Nigeria and 29 countries across Africa. Following detailed discussions of the report from Zamfara, the meeting noted that similar security situations also exist in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.”
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