COVID-19, insecurity fuels re-emerging variants of polio virus, says minister

The federal government has revealed that the impact of COVID-19 and emerging insecurity in some parts of the country pose a challenge to the onslaught of the re-emerging variants of the polioviruses.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this Thursday in Abuja during the third anniversary of the eradication of the wild polio virus in the country.

Ehanire said the day was not an easy one as the government and development partners have made huge investments and sacrifices over the years.

According to him, “The day may have come too late for those who are paralyzed and for those frontline health workers who have paid the highest price for the triumph of eradicating the disease. However, for the millions of children prevented from the crippling effects of WPV, these sacrifices will not be in vain and therefore the importance of commemorating this day.”

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“The main focus today is to appreciate those heroes and champions from both government and our development partners who have made huge investments and sacrifices and also to raise awareness among our people that even more investment and sacrifice is needed to make our WPI -to maintain and maintain eradication status.

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“The past 3 years have been a mixed bag of events for the country as the impact of COVID-19 affected our health system, and also emerging security in some parts of the country poses a challenge to the onslaught of the re-emerging variants of the polio viruses. (cVPV2) that are remnants in the environment due to suboptimal sanitation and can potentially be virulent and affect children not enrolled in the routine immunization system.

However, Ehanire said the National Primary Health Care Agency (NPHCDA) has been directed and guided to mount the necessary responses to deal with these viruses within an integrated framework to address other public health challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the country.

“But we’ve done a fantastic job of trying to reduce the number of children in Nigeria who are paralyzed.

UNICEF’s health chief Eduardo Celades praised the Nigerian government and partners in defeating the WPV, adding that the war on all types of polio is not over.

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“A circulating variant of the polio virus still affects too many children in Nigeria. But again, thanks to our concerted efforts, our perseverance and our strong belief that the world is possible without all forms of polio, we have managed to bring the situation under control,” Celades said.

“I believe with this spirit we will see more improvements in the current response to the cVDPV2 outbreak. I must commend the government and Nigerians for the 80 percent reduction in the burden of cVPDV2 cases among AFP cases despite the peak of the rainy season.

“This celebration should remind us that Nigerians can do more and that with strong partnership, teamwork and responsibility, achieving primary health care revitalization priorities to improve routine immunization and other PHC services is just within reach to be.”

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