Daily Trust (Abuja)

14 July 2012

Nigeria: Acute Flaccid Paralysis Ravages Kebbi

Kebbi — As the wind of Wild Polio Virus blew round the country, Kebbi State has recorded 191 cases of the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), with Jega local government area of the state topping the list with 28 cases.

Weekly Trust gathered that the last time cases of polio were recorded in the state was in June 2011, even when neighbouring states are battling with new cases.

It was learnt that it was as a result of the polio cases recorded at that time that the National Polio Immunisation was flagged off in Jega last year.

The AFP, medical doctors say, is a clinical manifestation characterized by weakness or paralysis and reduced muscle tone without other obvious cause. It is often used to describe a sudden onset, as might be found with polio. It is suspected case of polio. It is when the limbs of the children are weak. When it is discovered in a child his or her stool is taken to laboratory for diagnosis. If it is positive, that means the child has polio and if the stool is negative, it means the child has no polio.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Coordinator in Kebbi state, Dr. Dr Isameldin Mirghani Abdelrahim said the state has not recorded any new polio case of recent. He said the cases of polio recorded in the state were last year.

"I decided to speak to you because of your claim that Kebbi has new cases of polio. I'm not allowed to speak to you (a press man) except with permission from our national office in Abuja. All I can tell you is that there is no new case of polio in Kebbi State or Jega local local government area," he said.

A consultant of the WHO, told Weekly Trust at the immunisation centre of Jega local government area on condition of anonymity, that all polio cases are AFP, but that not all the AFP cases are polio cases.

"The high cases of the AFP recorded in Kebbi State show that their surveillance systems are effective. After taking the stool samples of the AFP cases to laboratory, we discovered that they are polio negative, though they were positive of other diseases but not polio. The more cases of the AFP recorded in a state or an area the better," he told our correspondent after a routine immunisation programme in Jega.

The traditional ruler of Jega, Sarki Kebbi Jega, Alhaji Muhammadu Arzuka also faulted the report of the 14 new cases wild polio virus, saying the collaborative efforts of the people of the community has made his people to know the importance of polio vaccines on the well-being of the children.

"For a year now, Jega is polio free and this is because of the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in the community. We collectively move with religious leaders to mobilise and sensitize parents on the need to bring out their children for immunisation. Cases of non compliance had dropped drastically," he said.

The Disease Surveillance Officer (DSO) of Jega, Malam Umar U. Raha said all the cases of the AFP recorded in Jega local government area were negative.

"The result of the AFP cases we sent to National Laboratory Abuja for examination is negative according to the WHO. We don't have polio cases in Jega," he added.

In a telephone interview, the Kebbi State Coordinator of Journalists Against Polio (JAP) Garba Mohammed Yeldu, said "though we have been recording cases of the AFP in the state, but after laboratory examination they were all found negative of the virus. For now Kebbi, is polio free and we are all working hard to sustain the tempo through regular sensitization and campaigns."

The Executive Chairman of Kebbi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (KSPHCDA), Dr. Abubakar Koko told Weekly Trust that the state has been free of polio for the past 13 months.

"The last time we recorded cases of polio was in June 2011. We recorded eight cases at that time and Jega was one of the local government areas affected. During the last surveillance, we recorded 191 AFP cases, a precursor of polio. After laboratory examination, we discovered that they were negative," he said.

According to him, the discovery of the AFP cases was as a result of the effective surveillance of the state.

He said the success recorded in the state was made possible because of the political commitment by the state governor, Alhaji Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari evidence by his constant monitoring of the polio vaccines activities. He said the state government supports programme with over 30 million during every round of immunisation.

This year alone, he said, the state did six round of immunisation and that the next would be carried out in September. Before and after round of immunisation, he said, they do border synchronisation meeting with neighbouring countries of Niger and Benin Republic.

"We also do boarder synchronisation meeting with our neighbouring states and even within our 21 local government areas in order to ensure that no transfer of polio and to get children of migrant nomads and fishermen," he added.

According to him, the state has a functional polio task force team co-chaired by the Emir of Argungu and the state commissioner of health.

On Jega local government area, he said the state government because of the non compliance give special attention to the area and that the situation has changed for good.

"It is not time yet to celebrate because we know we are not there yet. We are not resting on our oars. This one year polio free makes us more alive and activity because our aspiration is zero polio case for eternity," he said.

The poser is: for how long can Kebbi remain polio free when all its neighbouring states are battling with new cases?

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