The World Health Organisation and the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole have confirmed an outbreak of wild polio virus in Borno State.Adewole in a statement on Thursday said the outbreak has affected two children from Gwoza and Jere Local Government Areas of the State.
The Minister said the fresh cases were detected during an surveillance of North –Eastern states by health officials from the ministry.
Adewole who charged parents in the region to stay vigilant said a national emergency response team has been sent to Borno State for immediate polio vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of the virus locally and internationally.
He said, “Our overriding priority right now is to rapidly boost immunity in the affected areas to ensure that no more children are affected by this terrible disease.
“Local health officials with the support of partners including WHO and UNICEF are conducting detailed risk analysis to clearly ascertain the extent of circulation of the virus, and to assess overall levels of population immunity in order to guide the response.
“As an immediate response, about one million children are to be immunised in four local government areas in Borno State. Children in adjoining states of Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe will also be immunised bringing the number to about five million in the four states.”
The new cases of the wild polio virus recorded in Gwoza and Jere in Borno state has set back efforts towards declaring Nigeria polio free in 2017.
Nigeria was going to be declared polio free on July 24 next year, if the country did not record any new case.
Health authorities from the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja and its counterpart in Borno state have been silent on the reported new cases.
The World Health Organisation was about to issue a statement confirming that Africa has began the process of eradicating the disease on the continent on Wednesday. The organisation, however, recalled the statement after it learnt of the new cases in the Northern Nigeria state.
It was learnt that the Executive Secretary, the United Nations Populations Fund, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, made an emergency visit to the country on Thursday morning.
He was said to have met with President Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Adewole to devise a 48 hours strategy to quickly address the spread of the wild polio virus in Borno State.
The Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in July had met with top-ranking government officials and stakeholders to discuss efforts aimed at certifying Nigeria polio-free.
She expressed worries on the poor state of the primary health care system of the country and warned that this may frustrate the immunisation of children against the polio virus and the elimination of the diseases in the country.
Buhari who assured Moeti that all hands were on deck in Northern Nigerian states admitted that security problems in region, which had the highest number of unimmunised children, was a challenge that the Federal Government needed to tackle urgently.
He said, “The breakdown of law and order in the Northeast has posed challenges to regular immunisation. The condition of children in Internally Displaced Persons camps around the country is very pathetic.
‘‘But I know that the Federal and state governments in partnership with international organizations and NGOs are doing so much to provide healthcare, rebuild infrastructure and facilitate voluntary return of displaced persons to their communities.”