This Day (Lagos)

9 July 2012

Nigeria: Shettima Urges Decisive Step Against Polio

Maiduguri — Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State yesterday said the nation cannot but take decisive step to kick out poliomyelitis from the country as it has become an eyesore for the name of Nigeria to be mention as one of the three countries on the list of countries with instance of wild polio virus .

The governor said he would not take it kindly with any council chairman who does not take the fight against polio seriously. He said Borno as one of the states with instances of the disease, needs to get serious with the battle to combat it, as "it cannot continue to drag the name of the country on this unedifying list."

Shettima who lamented that: "polio is a Northern Borno phenomenon that has affected the lives of many children between the ages of five and 17," said kicking out the WPV, council chairmen along with their traditional leaders must rise up to the challenges of immunisation of all children below the age of five, warning that failure to achieve 100 per cent immunisation before the end of this year in the councils would be taken seriously.

He revealed that the performances of council chairmen would be assessed based on their commitments towards the eradication of polio through regular and compulsory immunisations of children.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Salma Anas Kolo, in her brief remarks, disclosed that there was a polio outbreak in Konduga council area in the second quarter of this year.

She said despite the efforts of the government and other partner agencies in kicking polio out of the state, there is much to be done, as Maiduguri Metropolitan, Jere, Monguno and Konduga are still prone to polio viruses that continue to infect children.

The vaccination team, she said has been constituted to further sensitise community leaders, so that they will strengthen the polio immunisation exercise in border communities; and prevent it from further spreading to neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroun.

Speaking on how polio spreads and contracted among communities in the state, the guest speaker at the occasion, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, said the PWV1-3 are contracted from contaminated water, and refuse dump sites.

He said once a child contract the virus, it spreads in a second; and multiplies in millions in children's stomach and intestines and finally end up in the spinal cords to become polio that cripples children for life, while the hands and arms of some children are chopped off.

He however noted that the administration of polio vaccines on children, does not affect the fertility of women nor does it cause HIV/AIDS, as enunciated among some Muslim communities in the North.

He further disclosed that in 1988, there were 125 countries infected by polio, but in 2006, the number of countries still having polio dropped to three countries, namely Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Eight traditional rulers, including the Shehu of Borno, and Chairman of Borno State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, participated in the flagging off of the polio immunisation and sensitisation of traditional rulers.

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