DESPITE efforts of the Federal Government and international partners to eradicate the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) from the country, four new cases were reported in the past week. One type three (WPV3) case was discovered in Bauchi State; two (WPV3) cases in Borno State; and one type one (WPV1) case from Yobe State.
According to the Weekly Polio Update published by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), all four of the cases had the onset of paralysis in 2012, bringing the total number of cases in 2012 to 17.
The report reads: “The most recent case was one of the new WPV3 cases from Borno State, with onset of paralysis on March 7. The total number of cases for 2011 remains 62.”
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ministry of Health, Japan, is organising a scientific meeting on vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) entitled“VDPVs and their implications: State of the Art” from May 30 to June 1, 2012 at the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meeting will review the available scientific information on VDPVs; discuss the scientific, policy and programmatic implications of continued VDPV emergence and transmission; and, help inform the“roadmap for VDPV elimination” for the post-OPV era.
Also, the Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation (ERC) has reviewed the latest epidemiology and impact of the national polio emergency action plan. The group noted that polio eradication efforts in the country were now an emergency, in particular as case numbers in 2011 and 2012 continue to increase.
The ERC report reads: “More than one third of children in the high-risk states of Borno, Kano, Sokoto and Yobe remain under-immunised (less than four doses of oral polio vaccine – OPV). In the last six months, 95 per cent of all cases occurred in eight high-risk states, and 80 per cent of all cases in just five states: Borno, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara. The bulk of all cases are from known high-risk local councils.
“The national polio emergency action plan, the implementation of which is overseen by the Presidential Task Force, clearly puts in place measures to immunise more children more consistently in the high-risk states, also in order to protect polio-free areas. Operating in an emergency ‘modus operandi’, efforts will focus on the faster identification of problems during immunisation campaigns, focusing resources on the highest-risk areas, and ensuring full accountability at all levels. New accountability mechanisms have been put in place, beginning with oversight from President Goodluck Jonathan. With the national task force mirrored at state-levels, clear accountability frameworks have been established for programme performance at the local council level.
“To ensure consistency in approach, senior staff from the National Task Force will now formally consult with priority northern states and local councils to establish clear and common coordination mechanisms and assign roles and responsibilities.
“Although key risks and challenges clearly remain, the ERC concluded that Nigeria has all the tools to rapidly improve the quality of operations to immunise more children and to eradicate polio. The challenge is to fully and consistently implement the national polio emergency action plan.”
Also, the Polio Research Committee (PRC) met last week at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland to ascertain the research needs for the global polio ‘emergency’ and help finalise the ‘endgame’ strategy. Research activities of the GPEI, as guided by the PRC since 2009, have been instrumental in helping to formulate and evaluate new strategic approaches and inform appropriate short, medium and long-term policy. The important deliberations and insights of the PRC will now be more critical than ever, in order to rapidly and effectively attain a lasting polio-free world.