Nigeria, 11 other African countries still prone to vaccine-derived poliovirus

Nigeria, 11 other African countries still prone to vaccine-derived poliovirus

  • NPHCDA says eradication bid on track

  • Last polio case recorded in Borno State on August 22, 2016

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed Nigeria among twelve countries that are still recording vaccine-derived poliovirus in Africa, Other countries are: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Togo and Zambia.

A statement by the organization said the African countries are still experiencing the outbreaks as a result of weak routine vaccination coverage, vaccine refusal, difficult access to some locations and low-quality vaccination campaigns, which have made immunization of all children difficult.

WHO However announced that three countries in the continent, Kenya, Mozambique and Niger, have successfully curbed polio outbreaks that erupted in different episodes over the past 24 months, allowing them to regain their polio-free status, World Health Organization (WHO) announced today.

Transmission of vaccine-derived poliovirus was detected in the three countries in 2018 and early 2019, affecting a total of 14 children.

“Ending outbreaks in the three countries is proof that response activities along with high quality immunization campaigns and vigilant disease surveillance can stop the remaining outbreaks in the region,” said Dr Modjirom Ndoutabe, coordinator of WHO-led polio outbreaks Rapid Response Team for the African Region.

“We are strongly encouraged by this achievement and determined in our efforts to see all types of polio eradicated from the continent. It is a demonstration of the commitment by governments, WHO and our partners to ensure that future generations live free of this debilitating virus,” added Dr Ndoutabe.

Vaccine-derived polioviruses are rare, but they affect unimmunized and under-immunized populations living in areas with inadequate sanitation and low levels of polio immunization.

Meanwhile, The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Sunday, December 29,  said the World Health Organisation team that visited Nigeria to verify the nation’s claim of having eradicated polio was satisfied with what they saw after visiting some states in the country.

During the first phase of the assessment, the team visited Lagos, Oyo, Abia, Ebonyi, Delta and Edo states.

It will return in the first quarter of 2020 for the second and final visit.

The team’s recommendation will influence WHO’s decision on whether to grant Nigeria the certification of being a polio-free country or not.

During an event held to celebrate three years without a case of wild polio virus in Nigeria on August 21, 2019, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said Nigeria had started the process of documentation towards the final stages of being declared a polio-free nation.

He said by June 2020, the country could achieve the polio-free status.

Shuaib said the last case of polio was recorded in Borno State on August 22, 2016.

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