The district governor, Rotary International, District 9125, Hon Elvis Chukwu, has blamed the current insecurity in the country to its inability to achieve a free polio certification, two years ago.
Speaking during the commemoration of World Polio Day, in Abuja at the weekend, Chukwu revealed that Rotary International, in partnership with security agencies has been able to reach the nooks and crannies of the country hitherto unreachable.
He expressed optimism to meet the target of three years polio free for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to certify Nigeria as a polio free country, adding that the country is almost achieving the target.
“We are almost there, but we don’t need to be complacent about polio. The job is been done in the field. We are trying to create awareness to end polio all over the world.
In Nigeria we have gone two years down the line without any case of polio. We are hoping that if we are able to pull that through next year, in August, Nigeria will be removed from the list of those endemic countries.”
Also speaking, polio ambassador to Nigeria, Sir Emeka Offor, reiterated that religious factor and insecurity hindered previous certification, just as he called for proper awareness and advocacy to eradicate polio.
Offor added that constant and continued immunisation remains a vital tool to help eradicate the polio virus, adding that the country must continue to create awareness to ensure that every child is immunised and to eliminate insurgency and address religious factors.
The vice chairman, Nigeria National Polio plus committee, Dr Kazeem Mustapha, lamented that polio eradication remains a herculean challenge that requires active participation to stem the tide, adding that if Nigeria survives the next 12months without any case of wild polio, it would be certified polio free.
Mustapha attributed previous failures to security challenges in Nigeria, especially in the northeastern part of the country, which, he noted made it impossible for health workers to access some children.
“The reason why we have not been able to do that is because of the security challenges in the northeast, which to a very large extent, has denied us access to a reasonable number of children. But there is an incredible partnership with the military and all the global polio partners are doing everything they could to get access to these children.”
Recall that only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are labeled polio endemic countries presently.
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