Health experts say Northern Nigeria is besieged with Type-3 polio.
Some health experts in Lagos on Thursday attributed the outbreak of Wide Polio Virus– Type-3 (WPV3) in some northern states of Nigeria to lack of awareness.
They said that the disease has not yielded to efforts of the Federal and State Governments to eradicate it.
The August 26 edition of the Weekly Polio Update, published by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), said “Northern Nigeria is now the global epicentre of Type-3 WPV transmission”.
“Of the 17 WPV3 cases reported this year, 15 are from the Northern Nigeria. Nigeria is the only country in the world to report any case of wild poliovirus (WPV) in the last 10 days and a Type-3 (WPV3) in the past four months,” the publication noted.
The Deputy Director, Clinical Services and Training, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Victor Adekunle, said that part of the problem is lack of information dissemination.
He said that people, especially those at the grassroots, do not know what to do and are not aware and educated enough to allow their children to be vaccinated.
“Parents need to begin to realise the importance of immunising their children and stop the spread, so that Nigeria will be counted as one of the non-endemic countries,” Mr. Adekunle said.
Another expert, Anthonia Nnaji, a pediatrician at LASUTH, said that the increase is due to inadequate immunisation.
She said that since polio, which has no cure, affects children under the ages of five years, immunisation against the disease was imperative.
“As long as a single child remains infected with polio, other unvaccinated children are at risk,” she said.
Also, a Hematologist at LASUTH, Idris Durojaiye, said that the outbreak of the disease has become a national issue that needs urgent attention.
“It is high time the government make extra efforts toward eradicating the disease.
“There should be more programmes– like campaigns– to reach many people, especially in the rural areas, as their level of awareness is still very low,” he said.
The Head, Department of Pediatrics, LASUTH, Adeola Animashaun, said that awareness on immunisation is still very low in the country. Mr. Animashaun said that there is a need for improvement on awareness.
“Some mothers still see immunisation as a waste of time, while others think it can have negative effect on their children,” he said.
Mr. Animashaun urged the government to make immunisation certificate part of the requirements for admissions into the public schools– to encourage child immunisation.
Another pediatrician at Outreach Children’s Hospital, Lagos, Taiwo Akanni, said that massive awareness campaign about the great risk associated with lack of polio vaccination was necessary.
“Awareness should be increased through adequate dissemination of information, because polio is contagious and should not be treated lightly,” he said.
Mr. Akanni also said that the traditional ruler in each community has a role to play as members of the community would be willing to listen to them.