Nigeria Intensifies Efforts to Reduce the Proportion of Missed Children During Polio Immunization Campaigns

press release

ABUJA (Nigeria), 31 July 2012 — From 7-10 July, 2012, Nigeria conducted large-scale door-to-door polio immunization campaigns in the States of Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara, targeting children under five years. Kaduna and Yobe States were forced to postpone their campaigns due to a deteriorating security situation.

In July, the Government urged traditional leaders in the Northern Traditional Leaders' Committee to mobilize and encourage their respective communities to immunize children against the poliovirus. The recent UNICEF social data analysis indicates that a third of all refusal cases have been resolved by traditional leaders in the northern high risk states of Nigeria.

During the meeting of the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication on July 12 in Abuja, the President of Nigeria particularly urged Governors of high risk states to double their efforts towards polio eradication within their respective domains.

UNICEF and its partners have deployed hundreds of Volunteer Community Mobilizers (VCMNet) in the very high risks states to carry out communications interventions before, during and after the campaign.

Selected from their villages, these mobilizers have been trained as "change agents" in their respective communities and saddled with the task of house-to-house mobilization for polio and routine immunization.

This network of community mobilizers is now fully operational in Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto States, and it is foreseen to be fully operational in five additional states (Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Yobe and Borno) by early August, bringing the total number of Volunteer Community Mobilizers to over 2,100. UNICEF is also in the process of boosting its human resources in the 200 highest risk LGAs by adding another 160 Local Government Area Consultants to its team to implement and monitor communication and social mobilization activities.

However, according to the July UNICEF Social Data Analysis, the proportion of missed children remains high in some high-risk states.

Sokoto has the highest proportion (8.6%), followed by Kano (7.8%), Jigawa (7.7%) and Katsina (7.6%). Data from the States of Yobe and Kaduna are not yet available due to the postponement of the campaign.

'Child absent' remains the main reason for missed children, accounting for over 72% of the total number of missed children. Non-compliance as a reason for missed children was 22% during the July campaigns. The States of Sokoto (35%) and Kano (34%) have the highest proportion of non-compliance.

Nigeria had witnessed a 95% decline in the number of polio cases in 2010 and was very close to stopping the transmission of the wild polio virus.

However, as at July 20, 2012, Nigeria has recorded 57 new cases of wild polio virus in 10 states compared to 25 cases during the same period in 2011. The country has already conducted two national as well as another two large scale sub-national supplementary immunization rounds this year. Three more immunization campaigns are slated for the remaining part of 2012 alongside "mop-up" campaigns with the detection of new wild polio virus cases. The next campaign is scheduled for September in the high risk states of Northern Nigeria.

The World Bank's Board has approved in July an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$95 million for the Nigeria Polio Eradication Support Project, which will help the country to achieve and sustain at least 80% polio immunization across all states, supporting the eventual eradication of the disease from Nigeria. The project will finance roughly 655 million doses of oral polio vaccine for children under age five across Nigeria, with a special focus on the northern states where polio is endemic.

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