NIGERIA is the only country in the world that reported cases of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) last week.
According to the latest edition of Weekly Polio Update published by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), five new cases were reported in the past week, two type-three WPV (WPV3s) from Kano and Yobe states, and three type-one WPV (WPV1s) from Borno and Katsina states. All of the cases had onset of paralysis in 2012, bringing the total number of cases in 2012 to 35. The most recent case is the WPV1s from Borno, with onset of paralysis on May 1.
A significant scale-up of technical staff, including social mobilisation specialists, is underway in high-risk states. This increase in staff will help address problems related to vaccine rejection and vaccination awareness among some members of the public.
“Rolling’ Immunisation Plus Days are currently underway in the country to stagger technical support from key area to key area. The first wave of the campaign focused on Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Jigawa, and the second wave will focus on Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger.”
According to the GPEI, polio eradication activities resulted in several landmark successes from 2010 to 2012. “India, long-regarded as the nation facing the greatest challenges to eradication, was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in February 2012. Outbreaks in previously polio-free countries were nearly all stopped.”
The GPEI noted that although the number of polio cases was lower in the first four months of this year than during the same period in any other year, cases continue to occur in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Chad. “Outbreaks in recent years in China and West Africa due to importations from Pakistan and Nigeria, respectively, highlight the continued threat of resurgence. By some estimates, failure to eradicate polio could lead within a decade to as many as 200,000 paralysed children a year worldwide,” the GPEI said.
Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “Polio eradication is at a tipping point between success and failure. We are in emergency mode to tip it towards success – working faster and better, focusing on the areas where children are most vulnerable.”