Even with Nigeria’s eventual achievement of a wild polio free status, the country must continue to address vaccine derived polio cases in the country.
Chair of the Nigeria Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Poliomyelitis Eradication and Routine Immunization, Professor Oyewale Tomori gave this advice in reaction to the imminent declaration of Nigeria as being polio free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Tomori told AfricaSTI in an interview that “being polio free means being wild polio free but the country still needs to continue to improve her routine national immunization programme.”
Tomori cautioned that though Nigeria is free of wild polio virus, efforts should be concentrated on addressing vaccine derived polio adding that “the country needs to continue to improve her routine immunization coverage of childhood immunisable diseases to ensure survival of under five year old children.”
No case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) was reported this week. But there were 18 cVDPV2 cases reported in 2019 and one in 2020.
To commended the efforts of all partners in the Polio Eradication Programme in the country especially in ensuring that there is “no hiding place for wild polio virus within the Nigerian territory.”
He stated that past concerns about the North Eastern part of the country as harbinger of the virus has been surmounted with various strategic approaches that ensured that children in hard to reach communities partake in the polio vaccination effort.
He added that such approaches had helped the programme to have access “and areas that were formerly not accessible are now accessible, with health workers being able to detect and treat cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), a surveillance gold standard for poliomyelitis control and prevention.