Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The International Polio Plus Campaign Chairman for Rotary World Wide, Michael McGovern, has expressed satisfaction with Nigeriaâ€™s efforts at the eradication of the polio disease in the country.
This came as Rivers State Government expressed its commitment to the eradication of all child-killer diseases by making immunisation available to every new-born child in the state.
McGovern spoke at the Model Health Centre, Rumuokoro in Port Harcourt yesterday during a Polio Immunisation Programme to commemorate the one-year polio free status of the Nigeria organised by District 9141 of Rotary International.
He noted that mothers and fathers in the country were enthusiastic about immunising their children from the large turn-out to the programme and expressed the hope that the progress recorded by the country would be sustained.
His words: â€œWe are confident with the progress made in Nigeria, and we believe that with everyone working together, soon we will see not only a polio-free Nigeria but a polio-free world. Itâ€™s really has been inspirational to see the work that has been done here in Nigeria by the Rotarians, by the local councils, by the state, by the government and by the other partners.
â€œThe mothers and fathers were willing to bring their children to get the polio drops. We are optimistic we really feel that the end of polio is near and itâ€™s good to be here.â€
On concern about the North-eastern part of the country, McGovern said: â€œThe North-east everyone understands there have been some conflicts there, in any part of the world where there is conflict, things like vaccines take a back seat but the good news is all the parties seem working together now to ensure that the vaccines are delivered in their created safe zones
â€œMany of the children now have access to the vaccines and mothers are bringing their children to be vaccinated, we are very positive. There have been challenges in many parts of the country but we have seen great progress in Borno and we really appreciate the support of everyone there.â€
He said his visit was to thank the Rotarians for working so hard and to hear from the government, the agents concerned on the progress in the eradication of the disease.
â€œThere is a lot of people making tremendous investment and it is important to see that the investment is being properly utilised and that it is efficient. Everything I have seen is a well-run programme and I am very happy with the work of all the different parties to ensure that in the end the drops are getting into the mouths and that we have a polio-free world, thatâ€™s why I made this visit, itâ€™s actually my first visit to Nigeria and I am very happy to be here, Nigeria is where Rotary has invested more than any other country, so it is important that we see the result of the investment,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has said it has the political will and commitment to kick polio permanently out of the state.
The state Governor, Nyesom Wike, stated at the Immunisation Programme to commemorate the one year polio-free status of the country that every effort was being made to strengthen the Primary Health Services, outreach services and all the Campaign Services to ensure that all children in the State were reached and protected against poliomyelitis and all other vaccine preventable diseases.
Represented by his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo, Wike said: â€œWe are happy that we have seen 12 months of being polio free from yesterday. We are looking forward to the next 24 months of being polio free knowing that our efforts will be crowned with success.â€
He commended the polio eradication efforts of Rotary International for the past 30 years, through their financial support, advocacies, campaigns and countless volunteer hours which according to the Governor have helped to reduce polio worldwide.
The state chief executive, who advised mothers to breast feed their children and ensure that their children are immunised against polio and all vaccine preventable childhood killer diseases, said immunisation is free and is the most cost effective way to keep children healthy.
â€œYou must ensure that your children receive the oral polio vaccine and also make it a point of duty to ensure your children complete their immunisation dozes against all vaccine preventable diseases,â€ he said.
Also speaking a nursing mother who brought her child for immunisation, Mrs. Adeola Henry, advised parents, especially mothers, to bring their children for immunisation against polio and all other diseases.
She debunked insinuations that immunisation makes the children infertile, stressing that as a child her mother immunized her and today she has had three children.
The last case of polio in Nigeria was reported on the August 21, 2016.