The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has said Nigeria is winning the war against polio.
Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, however, warned that the war is not over and Nigeria cannot afford to be complacent.
Speaking Tuesday at the 37th meeting of ERC on Polio and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria, held at NAF Centre, Abuja, Shuaib stated that the journey towards a polio-free Nigeria had begun.
He said: “We are happy that we are doing things people think can’t be done. We are involved in the war to ensure no Nigerian child is paralysed. Paralysis is paralysis and no child should be paralysed for a preventable cause. A child paralysed by polio is of concern to all.
“We have come this far through co ordination. We are close to end polio. We are close to stamping out polio outbreak.
“In collaboration with partners, we are thrilled to be hosting the 37th meeting of ERC on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation in Nigeria.
“Three years and counting without the wild polio virus in Nigeria is nothing short of a milestone.
“The two-day deliberation will see experts review efforts toward polio eradication and identify gaps.”
He stated that progress were recorded on reaching inaccessible children adding that the progress recorded was as a result of the hardworking men and women of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), partners and donors.
“Together, we can finish the job of flushing polio out the country. If this positive trajectory continues, then it is very likely that certification institutions will review the progress that Nigeria has made and likely be certified polio-free soon.
“It will be an unprecedented declaration in our country; a situation where no single child is paralysed due to wild polio virus.”
He said he was optimistic that the country was close to obtaining a polio eradication certificate, adding that the country worked
tirelessly with strong surveillance system.
He stated further that “one challenge we still face is around mothers and caregivers bringing their kids to health facilities to access routine immunisation; even in the urban centres where places are accessible.
“We still have that challenge largely because parents have not realised the need for kids to take the full complement of routine immunisation vaccines, let alone in the hard-to-reach areas.”
He said areas that could not be reached because militancy activities must also be free from polio adding that today, many of those places are on the verge of being declared polio free.
Chairman of the review committee, Oyewale Tomori, said he was impressed by the determination of stakeholders to end polio and strengthen routine immunisation programmes in the country.
He advocated the need not to relent on routine immunisation programmes, even after securing the certificate of polio-free status.
Outgoing Country Representative, World Health Organisation (WHO), Michael Zaffrau and representatives of UNICEF, AU, Aliko Dangote Foundation, representatives of Canada, USA, Germany and many other international organisations sent their good will messages to the ERC meeting. They all promised to continue to support Nigeria in the fight against polio. The meeting is scheduled to end Wednesday.