Nigeria may be declared polio-free soon
*Only polio-endemic country not to record any case in eight weeks
*Dismisses possible vaccines’ shortage for 2014
*Has enough stock provided to last up till 2015
NIGERIA is the only polio endemic country not to report any case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) in eight weeks; the last case of WPV type one (WPV1) was recorded on December 15, 2013.
According to the latest edition of the Weekly Polio Update published yesterday by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the country also has not reported any case of type three WPV (WPV3) in over 14 months and the most recent case of WPV type two (WPV2) that is circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (cVDPV2) from Konduga, Borno State, had paralysis on November 6, 2013.
The other polio endemic countries- Afghanistan and Pakistan have all recorded cases of WPV in 2014. Pakistan has recorded seven cases in 2014 with most recent one on January 16, 2014; while Afghanistan’s most recent case was on January 14, 2014.
Also, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Gana Mohammed, has dismissed suggestions by the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) that the country may run out of vaccines needed for routine immunization against childhood killer diseases by March 2014.
Mohammed who also corroborated the GPEI report told The Guardian: “The federal government of Nigeria is fully committed to ensure that funds are available. As I am talking to you now, from November last year we were able to pay for the total vaccine need of Nigerian children up to the third quarter of 2014 and we are just in the process again of paying through United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) because we procure vaccines through UNICEF.
“In the next few years we will also be paying UNICEF for additional vaccines that will take us to 2015. So what it means is that we are comfortable as a country with vaccine needs of Nigeria up till the third quarter of 2014 including buffer stock. Because it is not just the vaccines we also make provision for buffer stock in the event there is an outbreak or even of any issue that will suddenly jack up the demands. So we make provision of buffer stock, which is 25 per cent of the vaccine needs of Nigeria. So what I am saying is that we are not out of vaccine.
“The federal government of Nigeria has made provision that we will have adequate vaccine up to 2015 and the budget has not even been passed yet. What it means is that proactively the federal government of Nigeria has made vaccine available for Nigerian children.”
On polio eradication, Mohammed said: “For eight weeks we have not reported a single case and Nigeria is the only polio endemic country that has not reported any case. Pakistan has reported, Afghanistan has reported and we have outbreak in the horn of Africa, in Somalia, in Ethiopia, in Kenya and you have in Syria.
“What it means is that Nigeria is making progress. Just like Mr. President said, ‘Nigeria will be the next country that will exit as polio endemic country.’ Not only that we have not reported a single case, but if you look at the types of polio virus itself, we have not in the last 14 months reported a single case of WPV3. It is unprecedented in the history of this country.
“In addition our routine immunization has jacked up in the last one year from where it used to be from about 51 per cent two years ago to about 84 per cent now. This is not unconnected to the fact that vaccines are available.”
The Weekly Polio Update report on Nigeria reads: “No new WPV cases were reported this week. The total number of WPV cases for Nigeria 2013 remains 53 (all WPV1). The most recent WPV1 case in the country had onset of paralysis on 15 December from Damboa, Borno.
“No new cVDPV2 case was reported in the past week. The total number of cVDPV2 cases for 2013 remains 3. The most recent cVDPV case had onset of paralysis on 6 November (from Konduga, Borno).
“Of the country’s 53 WPV1 cases in 2013, only six were reported since September, traditionally the ‘high season’ for polio transmission. Four of these are from Kano.
“Sub National Immunisation Days (SNIDs) were conducted on 25-28 January 2013. National immunization days (NIDs) are planned for March. “