The federal government has reiterated its commitment to attaining polio-free status sooner than expected.
The minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stated this at the opening ceremony of the meeting of African Regional Certification Commission, yesterday in Abuja.
He said the country would continue to provide all the required human and material resources to finish the job of polio eradication. "We are certainly not resting on our oars," he stated.
The minister however identified insurgency in some parts of the country as a major setback, saying accessibility to all eligible children particularly in Borno State has remain a serious challenge.
"We would not be quick to state that we have successfully truncated transmission until every part of our beloved country is accessible to the vaccination and surveillance teams. Nevertheless, we are confident that this will happen sooner than expected as our armed forces are doing extremely well to overwhelm the Boko Haram insurgency," he stated.
According to him, close collaboration with the military and civilian Joint Task Force in Borno State has facilitated increased accessibility to the programme. "An estimated 71 per cent of settlements in the state have been accessed for vaccination at least once.
"Surveillance efforts have been ramped up including expansion of the community surveillance network and increase in environmental surveillance sites. Innovative surveillance approaches in security-compromised areas are also being implemented.
"An aggressive effort is underway to address the low routine immunisation coverage across the country.
"Permit me to add that our efforts are beginning to yield results considering the fact that we have spent 18 months without a case of poliovirus in Nigeria," said Adewole.
Recall that the last Wild Polio Virus (WPV) was reported 21 months ago in Monguno LGA, Borno State. Nigeria however remains on the list of polio endemic countries as some areas in the northeast remain inaccessible to the polio programme.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Wondi Alemu, commended the Nigerian government for its effort towards eradicating polio in the country.
He however lamented the poor access to certain parts of the country due to insurgency while encouraging government to improve accessibility and security in those areas.