To further demonstrate commitment of Canadian government to the fight against polio virus and strengthen routine immunisation (RI), the Director General West and Central African Bureau, Global Affairs Canada, Mr Tarik Khan, joined the Niger State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (SPHCDA) and WHO staff during the polio house-to-house vaccination exercise recently.
The delegation made a first stop at the home of Mrs Miriam Shuaibu, whose one-year-old son received a follow-up dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Expressing her joy, she said, “I’m happy you came to my house to vaccinate my son, Mohammed”.
Khan reiterated that reaching every child with lifesaving vaccines, as well as strengthening surveillance and routine immunisation across Nigeria and the African region, will be essential to sustain the progress against wild polio and other strains.
Since the last wild polio case was detected on 21 August 2016 in Nigeria, the Nigerian government has organised more than a dozen supplementary immunisation campaigns with oral polio vaccine, intensified efforts to increase routine immunisation coverage, improved its polio surveillance networks and deployed innovative strategies (market vaccination, cross-border points and outreach to nomad populations) to reach more children with polio vaccines.
For this sub national vaccination campaign, preliminary data show that at least 2.6million children have been immunised across all 25 LGAs of Niger, a state at risk of polio virus.
Actively participating in the vaccination campaign, Khan expressed satisfaction with WHO’s support to the community towards polio eradication and strengthening RI.
“It was very enlightening to see how WHO is supporting routine vaccination and how there is a lot of public awareness and definitely an increase in the number of young children being vaccinated.
“ We are very hopeful that the government of Nigeria, with support from WHO working with local authorities, will be able to eradicate polio completely by 2020”, he said.
During a visit to the Suleja LGA Secretariat, the Executive Director of the Niger State PHCDA said: “The support from Canada has been very instrumental to the progress we have recorded so far. WHO has been so helpful and they’re always on ground to help us anytime.”
The Government of Canada has been one of the major contributors in the fight against polio since the global initiative was launched in 1988. This includes Nigeria, where Canada is currently providing financial support through WHO to help eradicate polio and strengthen routine immunisation.
Expressing gratitude to the people of Canada and the Niger State government, WHO Nigeria Team Lead for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Dr. Fiona Braka, said, “We wish to use this medium to greatly appreciate Canada and the Niger State Government for all their efforts.
“The strong leadership of the Federal and State Governments, with the support from donors such as Canada, has been instrumental to the significant achievements in the fight against polio virus in Nigeria.”
She cautioned that, “as we edge closer towards polio-free certification in the Africa Region, we need to remain vigilant and sustain the high quality of vaccination campaigns and surveillance, while aiming for higher routine immunisation coverage.”
Other members of the delegation to Suleja LGA, Niger State consisted of Niger State Government officials, the Acting High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Mrs Amy Galigan and the Counsellor/ Head of Cooperation, Mr Kevin Tokar, as well as health team officers – Ms Kibeza Kasubi and Mr Martin Osubor.
The team paid a courtesy call to His Royal Highness the Emir of Suleja, Mallam Muhammad Awwal Ibrahim, to express appreciation for the support of the traditional institutions in promoting polio eradication and broader primary health care delivery.