The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday said Nigeria was not on track in the effort to eradicate wild polio virus before the end of December this year.
Dr Bruce Alyward, WHO Assistant Director-General, Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration, said in Abuja that the increasing cases of the virus in the country constitutes “real and growing danger to international public health”.
Alyward said during the 24th session of Expert Review Committee Meeting on Polio Eradication, that the country had the tools and capacity to rapidly reverse the trend.
“Every country is expected to operate in the emergency mode, Congo, India and China have stopped polio in the last three months, Nigeria is the only country in the world that has polio type 1 and type 2 in the last three months.
“It is also the only country in the world with increasing cases; it is the number that puts the country at risk not the quality of prevalence.”
He recommended eight major steps for polio eradication for the country, including the implementation of the new house-based micro planning and monitoring method.
Alyward said the new house based micro plan was initiated in August this year to improve polio immunisation.
Other recommendations are optimising the emergency surge through cross agency refresher training for all personnel, identifying chronically missed children, establishing true emergency oversight and having planned programme for insecure areas, among others.
Alyward urged the country to address the chronic surveillance gaps, and called for urgent implementation of environmental surveillance in Maiduguri.
Also speaking, Dr Mohammed Ado, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said the Federal Government had put in place a new strategy to immunise children in market places.
He said the government had placed order for vaccines ahead of time to stop delays experienced in routine immunisation, and called on states and local governments to key into the president’s agenda to eradicate polio in the country by December.
Ado said the revised micro plan for polio eradication would fast track efforts to end the virus, but noted that the agency was still having problems in moving vaccines from state capitals to the wards.
Also Prof. Tomori Oyewole, Chairman of the review committee called on Nigerians to change their attitude to polio eradication to ensure the success of the fight against the virus.
“Unless we change our attitude in our own different capacity, nothing will change,” he said, adding that the country should learn from its past mistakes.