Notwithstanding reduction in polio cases in the last one year, continued transmission as a result of $950 million funding and immunisation gaps may halt efforts at stemming the spread of polio virus across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Addressing a world press conference at the ongoing World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO Assistant Director General, Bruce Alyward, said the consequence of not bridging the funding gap was enormous as transmission would escalate across countries.
"We have now cross the Rubicon in terms of fighting polio, the consequence of failure are great, and if polio is not halted, the consequence is going to be more than the present situation, the outbreaks will not only affect children but adults as well."
According to Alyward, "the $950 million gap must be met for us to achieve the objective of eradicating polio" stating that, increasing cases of new outbreaks of polio in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan is "unexpected and alarming."
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu on his part told the WHO leaders that Nigeria remained committed in the global fight against polio, adding that, the scaling up of polio funding from $15million to $30 million by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration is a demonstration of the government resolve to free the country from the virus.
Chukwu alongside the Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammed, said: "All the polio risk states have now taken full ownership and improving oversight and declaring zero tolerance to polio as each of them have set up functional task force to completely eradicate the virus."
The minister also informed the gathering made up of Afghanistan and Pakistan health officials that "continued and strengthen support from the international community especially in technical support and monitoring" would ensure a holistic reduction of polio to zero level.
Meanwhile, WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, has been re-elected for a second term, pulling 98 per cent of the votes from member countries. The election which took place behind closed doors, saw Chan emerged WHO head after several intrigues from participating countries bordering over issues of rotation of the office among the eight regions of WHO.
Also, the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Alhaji Abdulrahman Sambo, has warned that doctors embarking on the ongoing strike in Lagos State and other part of the country are by the NHIS expected to attend to enrollees of the NHIS scheme even as the doctors continue with the strike action.
Sambo who is also attending the world health assembly in Geneva told journalists that "the enrollees under the NHIS scheme has the right to access care at any time, all providers that have been accredited by NHIS have signed that they will make alternative care to all the enrollees in time of strike and they have signed to that agreement."
He explained that providers are to liaise with private health institutions to ensure that no enrollee was denied of healthcare during strike period.