- Only Afghanistan, Pakistan still harbour polio virus globally
Okon Bassey in Uyo
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed optimism that a Polio-free certification could be granted Nigeria by 2019 if no Wild Polio virus is detected in any area of the country within the period.
The Country Director of WHO, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu made the disclosure when he led a team from the organisation to visit the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Moses Ekpo in Uyo, saying polio was one of the major support areas provided by WHO.
Dr. Alemu noted that so far, Nigeria has remained Polio-free since August 2016, while Afghanistan and Pakistan were the remaining two countries in the world still harboring the Polio virus.
He said the visit was to provide an update on its level of support to Akwa Ibom State in the areas of technical support, field activities and other upcoming interventions and to also find out the Stateâ€™s expectations from the World Health authorities.
The Country Director commended the state government for the support given to WHO by creating a good working environment for the UN Agencyâ€™s team in the state and for providing office accommodation through the state Ministry of Health.
Alemu further hinted that WHO had contributed N150 million for two rounds of immunisation activities in Akwa Ibom and appealed to the state government to provide its counterpart funding to help them carry out more interventions.
He equally requested the state government to give assent to the bill seeking for the establishment of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Akwa Ibom State to further strengthen their support.
Responding, the Deputy Governor said the State Government was committed to improving the health standard of its people and sustaining the Polio-free status of the state.
Ekpo, who represented the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel posited that without a healthy citizenry, the quest for development may not be attainable and therefore commended the WHO and other development agencies for their continued support and partnership with the state.
He used the occasion to appeal to the World Health authorities to continue to help in training health workers in the state and providing equipment to aid in disease surveillance and control.
Ekpo assured of the readiness of the state to make provision to meet its counterpart funding despite the paucity of funds, in order to strengthen its partnership with the WHO.
The State Government, he said, would continue to place the health sector on its top priority and has embarked on restructuring, reconstructing and repositioning of General hospitals across the state with state-of-the-arts equipment.
The Deputy Governor explained that five hospitals within the three Senatorial Districts were already receiving attention with the General Hospital, Etinan completed while works were ongoing at Ikono, Ituk Mbang and Ikot Ekpene General hospitals.
Equally, he disclosed that plans were on to build a new modern General Hospital in Awa Iman while the renovation and re-equipping of the Ikot Okoro General hospital is about to commence.
Ekpo expressed the state governmentâ€™s appreciation to the WHO for donating 32 motorcycles to health personnel to help in disease surveillance in the state, and urged them to continue to do more for the state.