Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole Image: answersafrica.com

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole                           Image: answersafrica.com

An outbreak of the wild polio virus has been reported in two local government areas of Borno.

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole confirmed that two children from Gwoza and Jere local government areas of the state were the newest recorded cases of polio in Nigeria since July 2014.

The two local government areas were some of those Nigerian troops recently liberated from the stranglehold of the Boko Haram terrorists group.

Spokesman for the ministry, Olajide Oshundun, quoted the minister in a statement as saying that the new affliction would likely set the country back in its three-year, wait-to-attain polio free certification.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) removed Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries barely a year ago.

Only last September, the WHO announced that polio was no longer endemic in Nigeria, the closest the entire country and continent had come in achieving polio-free certification.

The minister attributed the quick discovery and confirmation of the outbreak to strengthened and increased surveillance in the war-torn northeast, but warned that the country should remain vigilant in immunising all eligible children with the polio vaccine until the virus is completely eradicated worldwide.

He assured that steps were being taken to mitigate the spread of the outbreak by embarking on a widespread immunisation of one million children in four local government areas of Borno State, as well as in adjoining Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states.

The exercise would bring the number of children planned for immunisation in the four states to about five million.

During the exercise, the Ministry of Health would be working in collaboration with the WHO, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency of Nigeria and with other stakeholders.

The WHO said on its website that “genetic sequencing of the virus suggests that new cases are  most closely linked to a wild polio virus strain last detected in Borno in 2011″.

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, but made significant strides in the last two years without recording a single case.

This progress has been as a result of concerted efforts by all levels of government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders as well as dedicated health workers

The new afflictions further highlights the need to prioritise the immunisation of children in interior communities and in particularly those affected by conflicts and large population movement.

 

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Author: Aderonke Adeleke

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