Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Monday announced that by next year, the country might exit the polio club – nations still endemic with the child-crippling wild polio virus. As it stands, Nigeria is one of the last three of such countries in the world. The other two are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to the health minister, the Federal Government had put in place a new emergency polio eradication plan in which all stakeholders, from President Goodluck Jonathan to Rotary Club, World Health Organisation (WHO) to the ordinary people – would be held accountable towards the eradication of the disease.
“I hope that by next year, we will tackle it and maybe we will be the ones accusing other nations of being the ones holding the world back in the eradication of the disease as they are now accusing Nigeria of doing,” he said.
To accomplish the eradication plan, Chukwu said Nigeria had established an effective surveillance structure that would ensure that all places not covered in the past would be captured in future immunsation programmes.
He explained that the failure of Nigeria to eradicate the disease before now was because some endemic communities were not reached in the course of polio immunisation besides the refusal of some familes to have their children vaccinated.
“We are very optimistic that we are indeed this close,” he indicated the little time left, “to ending polio now.”