Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, monday congratulated Nigerians on the observance of 365 days of free poliomyelitis (Polio) in the country at the weekend.
Saraki, according to a statement by Chuks Okocha, his Special Assistant on Print Media, said the successes recorded in Nigeria on Polio eradication in the last 365 days without a single case of the virus was a product of relentless hard work by Nigeria’s partners, religious and community leaders as well as health workers.
He said he was pleased by the success of Polio eradication, which according to him, had a case study of 801 reported cases in 21 states in 2005 with 62 wild cases and 34 circulating vaccine-derived cases (cVDPV) with endemic transmission rate in 2011 coupled with122 wild cases and eight circulating vaccine-derived cases.
The Senate President further recalled that the transmission rate in 2012 was endemic with reported 53 wild cases and three circulating vaccine-derived cases recorded as transmission endemic in 2013.
Saraki disclosed how he undertook a bipartisan approach to eliminating the disease as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) by leading his colleagues, public-spirited groups and companies in private sector to partner with federal government and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a better and more extensive polio immunisation in Nigeria.
He credited the successes recorded in the eradication of the virus to the introduction of what he described as Immunised Leadership Challenge, which he said was designed in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reward states in Nigeria which had made significant improvements in polio.
He added that the routine immunisation coverage was meant to fast-track the achievement of global milestone for the interruption of further transmission of polio virus in Nigeria.
Saraki urged Nigerians not to relent in this fight against polio which he said had been responsible for significant mortality and morbidity rates mostly in children under the age of five, noting that once a single child is infected, children in other places are at risk of contracting the virus.
He also emphasised the need to sustain the efforts towards eliminating this crippling and potentially fatal virus until the World Health Organisation (WHO) certifies Nigeria a polio-free country in 2017.