‘WHO Greatly Concerned about Nigeria’s Failure to Avoid Polio New Cases’

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Paul Obi in Abuja with agency reports

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday it was concerned about the outbreak of new cases of polio in Nigeria, noting that it in no way undermined the country’s tremendous work toward meeting its target of eradicating the virus completely.

Speaking at the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chan, expressed great concern over Nigeria’s failure to end polio next year.

Chan in her opening remarks at the ceremony recalled with admiration the feat recorded by Nigeria in celebrating two years of no single case of wild polio transmission, regretting, however, that the two new cases of children paralyzed by polio in Borno State marred the effort.

“This setback in no way undermines the tremendous job done by the Nigerian Government in getting down to zero case.

“You will get there again. We will get the job done’ Chan said, adding that WHO will offer the necessary support to Nigeria in putting an end to polio,” Chan assured.

According to her, the progress so far recorded in Africa provides a reason for optimism as the world moves into the era of Sustainable Development Goals.

She said Africa stands to benefit most from implementation of the SDG agenda, especially since the alleviation of poverty is an overarching SDG objective as nothing holds back health development in the region as much as the full grip of poverty.

Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, while speaking at the session, explained that Nigeria has already declared polio a public health emergency and vaccination has begun in Borno State and 2 additional states will be included from Monday 22, August, 2016, to be followed by 18 other states.

Adewole explained that “eventually the country will implement six rounds of vaccination according to the International best practices.”

Earlier in her statement, the Regional Director, Africa, WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti , said there was a tremendous improvement in the way the region responds to emergencies.

She said, “Although Africa faces multiple and complex disease outbreaks, timely detection and improved emergency response will help in tackling the challenge”.