The Nigerian government has repeated its commitment to work towards the World Health Organisation’s certification as a polio-free country in 2017.President Muhammadu Buhari restated this commitment in a statement on Saturday as the country marked the second anniversary of the interruption of polio-virus transmission in the country.
WHO regulation stipulates that a country must be have no new cases of polio virus transmission in three years before being certified polio-free.
Mr Buhari said the government will strive to attain the polio-free certification by intensifying “routine immunization and the revitalization of primary health care system.”
“As a nation, we are cooperating with international public and private partners to ensure that in our lifetime our children do not suffer from this crippling disease again,” he said.
“We recognize the power of global partnership to achieve a polio-free world and Nigeria will continue to honour its commitment to ensure that this disease is wiped off the face of the earth for good,” he added.
He said in the last year, the country has had to surmount dwindling revenue, disruption of services by health workers and insecurity in states with high prevalence of polio to make sure the crippling disease which targets children under the age of five did not make a comeback.
He said in spite of these challenges, his government would not relent in the doing all that is necessary to achieve the WHO certification.
“We will continue to do our best to ensure timely release of funds required for polio eradication programme. The good health and well-being of Nigerian children remain an important part of our drive to national development,” he said.
“We have demonstrated our strong commitment in this regard with the allocation of N12.6 billion in the 2016 budget for vaccines and programmes to prevent childhood killer diseases such as polio, measles, yellow fever and others.”
He said his government will work at state and local government as well as religious and traditional leaders to increase supervision and improve surveillance of most at risk communities.
He said all hands should be on deck for the country to achieve its goal of polio-free certification. He thanked foreign and local organization that collaborated or supported the government in its fight to eradicate the disease in the country.
“A year ago when Nigeria was delisted as a polio endemic country, I remarked that our fight against other communicable and non-communicable diseases must be anchored on a strong health system. I am pleased that the National Health Act has made provision for universal access to basic healthcare with a focus on the poor and the vulnerable as well as the basic healthcare provision funds to support its implementation.
“I thank our development partners particularly WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, USAID, US-Centre for Disease Control, Rotary International, and a host of others who contributed financially and materially to this effort. Together we can achieve our vision to make polio a thing of the past.”