The number of states having polio cases have reduced.
With just 502 days left to Nigeria’s target of putting an end to the transmission of the polio virus, the country is already 99 per cent free of the virus, the Chairman, Nigeria National Polio Plus Committee, NNPPC, Abdulrahman Funso.
Launched by Rotary International with an initial pledge of US$120 million, Polio Plus is the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support for the public health concern.
According to the group’s latest statistical update of August 7 which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Nigeria has been able to reduce her reported confirmed cases of polio by 22 incidences.
The country has reported 43 confirmed polio cases as at August 7, 2013 while she had 65 cases for the same period in 2012.
Again, she has been able to eradicate the virus in four additional states thus only nine states have been affected this year. As at last year, there were 13 states with confirmed polio incidences.
The latest case was reported in Gwale Local Government Area of Kano State on July 14.
The security challenges in some parts of the country have however been identified as main contributors to the continuous existence of the preventable health concern. For instance, the statistical update indicates that 20 (47%) of the reported incidents are from
the security-compromised states of Borno and Yobe.
Consequently, the main challenges being faced at present are how to reach all children particularly those in the security challenged areas. Others include the anti-OPV propaganda, apathy on the part of local government officials, and funding.
Notwithstanding these, the NNPPC chairman said the group will do all it can to have a polio-free Nigeria. To achieve this, he said, “We are going to deploy our new PA, Sani Danja to assist in countering the anti OPV propaganda. The CWG is working on this”.
According to him, in the security challenged areas, measures, such as fire walling, which ensures that children going in and out of Borno and Yobe states are immunized, have been put in place.
In addition, Permanent Health Teams (PHT) have been put in place. These are selected health workers who will be working with the security agencies by going into security challenged areas to immunize children. They will however withdraw from these areas within a short period of time. The campaigns in these areas would last for a maximum of two days.
“We are optimistic that the prediction of the Independent Monitoring board, IMB, to see the end of transmission of the Polio virus by the end of 2014 will come to pass” Mr. Funsho stated.
As at this moment, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only three countries worldwide still battling with the virus that cripples children. One hundred and ninety-three countries have been able to eradicate the virus in their domains.
Although polio cases have declined rapidly since 1985, Rotary International says the fight isn’t over. The renowned international group warns in its statement that “Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, and for as little as US$0.60, a child can be protected against the virus for life.
“If we don’t finish the fight right now, more than 10 million children under the age of five could be paralyzed by polio in the next 40 years”.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus. Most times, it leads to permanent paralysis and is usually in the legs and can cause death as well.
A very silent virus, it spreads in a community before manifesting itself as a case of paralysis and could be fatal if it paralyzes the muscles used for breathing. Studies so far indicate children under the age of five are mainly at risk.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for polio because the nerve damage is permanent. However, the polio vaccine has proven to be very effective in giving children lifelong protection from the virus. Though physical therapy and braces can help paralyzed children to regain some function, the nerve damage is permanent.
In addition to making sure every child is given the vaccine, polio can also be prevented through observing good hygiene as the virus spreads through faecal-oral route that is, from excreta to hand and to the mouth. Public health researches indicate this is usually a result of poor hand washing or by eating/drinking contaminated food or water.
Consequently, anyone infected with the virus can excrete it in their stool for several weeks and are likely to infect others with the virus due to poor hygiene and sanitation. Individuals are most contagious (likely to pass on the virus to others) immediately before the onset of symptoms and soon after they appear.
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