Africa News Bulletin

Polio: Nigerian govt sets measures against importation

As part of efforts to prevent importation of the Wild PolioVirus (WPV) into the country, the Nigerian government said it has reconstituted the Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunisation (ERC).

The new effort is in response to the recent outbreak of WPV in Malawi and Nigeria’s experience with a circulating variant of poliovirus type 2 (cVPV2).

The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this in a statement obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday morning.

Mr Shuaib said the ERC will provide expert advice and guidance on strategies and approaches for polio eradication and routine immunisation.

He explained that the committee reviews the country’s situation by taking into consideration population-based and laboratory studies, programmatic approaches, cost information, and other issues so as to provide practical advice to the country.

He said the ERC’s expert advice contributed immensely to the country’s achievement of WPV-free status in August 2020.

He said: ”Consequently, it has become imperative to reactivate the committee following the recent outbreak of WPV in Malawi and the outbreaks of circulating variant of poliovirus type 2 (cVPV2) in Nigeria.

“The ERC is expected to work with the NPHCDA to come up with multi-stakeholder plans to strengthen surveillance, build population immunity, mitigate against and control all forms of polioviruses.”

What is Polio?
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.

It is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, through contaminated water or food and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Africa was certified polio free in August 2020 following the elimination of the virus in Nigeria. Nigeria was the last African country to eliminate the virus which can be prevented with adequate vaccination.

Resurfaced?
While Africa is still celebrating its Polio free status, Malawi recently declared an outbreak of polio after a young child in the country’s capital, Lilongwe, developed the disease in the first case of polio in Africa in more than five years.

A statement issued by WHO shortly after the case was detected linked the strain found in the child to one circulating in Pakistan where the virus remains endemic.

Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the countries endemic with the wild poliovirus.

WHO said the new case detected in Malawi did not affect Africa’s status of being polio-free

ERC
Mr Shuaib said the reconstituted 12-member expert committee is chaired by a public health expert, Akin Osibogun, and has members drawn from the academia, media, donors, and development partners including WHO, CDC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Members include Dorothy Esangbedo, Shuaib Bello, Clara Ejembi, Sade Ogunsola, B.S.C. Uzochukwu, Ilayisu Zubairu, Muhammad Dallatu, Mannir Dan Ali, Steve Cochi (CDC), Aidan O’Leary (WHO), and Jay Wenger (BMGF).

“The reconstituted ERC has a renewable tenure of two years and will be inaugurated at a date to be announced soon,” he said.

Original story on Premium Times

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