Young children who were afflicted with polio and suffer from paralysis.

UNICEF: Nigeria’s Battle Against Polio Is Not Over Yet

Eduardo Celades, the UNICEF Chief of Health, has declared that although Nigeria has successfully subdued the Wild Polio Virus (WPV), its battle against all other types of polio is not yet over.

While speaking at an event to commemorate the first anniversary of Nigeria’s attainment of a Wild-polio virus free certification, in Abuja hosted by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Celades stated that although Nigeria might have won the battle against wild polio, the war against all types of polio was not over yet.

According to him, the circulating variant of the polio virus was still affecting too many children in Nigeria.

“This monumental certification not only signified the end of the WPV in Nigeria but also meant that the entire African continent could be declared free of wild polio virus. Thanks to the Nigerian government’s unrelenting commitment and determination, and the support of the partners, traditional and community leaders, health workers, and caregivers. Nigeria has successfully sustained the victory over wild polio.”

Celades said Nigeria would need to sustain the remarkable polio achievement, through strengthening routine immunisation and the overall health system, “Complacency is not an option, as polio could come back if we let our guards down, looking at what happened in Zambia and Mozambique, even in the UK and USA. Polio anywhere is polio everywhere.”

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He said UNICEF was proud to have joined efforts by providing the life-saving vaccines, generating demand for vaccines, partnering with the traditional leaders and religious leaders as well as key stakeholders to create a positive environment for vaccination, ensuring that leaders and teams were available to resolve vaccine hesitancy.

According to him, the team comprising almost 20,000 community members worked tirelessly to encourage millions of Nigerian mothers to take their children to the health facilities for completion of their routine immunisation.

The Sultan of Sokoto who was represented by the Emir of Argungu, HRH Sumaila Mohammed Mira thanked the NPHCDA for appreciating the contributions of traditional rulers in the promotion of healthcare delivery for the people.

He noted that during the onset of the Covid-19 vaccination, there was so much distrust and added that with the intervention of traditional leaders, such misinformation about the vaccines was gradually giving way and the rate of vaccination has increased.

The highlights of the event included the presentation of awards to actors who made vital efforts in the fight against Polio eradication in Nigeria in recognition of their efforts.