PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the country would sustain its current polio-free status. Speaking to representatives of the World Health Organisation, WHO, who visited the Presidential villa on the occasion of marking the delisting of Nigeria as a polio epidemic country, on Monday, October 26, Buhari said he had set machinery in motion to ensure that the 14 consecutive months that Nigeria had not recorded any new case of polio virus should be sustained.
“As you are aware our, efforts to eradicate this crippling disease started in 1998. It has taken a lot of toll on our country in terms of human and material resources. We are, however, not relenting as we are determined to achieve our collective goal of saving our children from further paralysis from polio.
“I want to assure you that there will be no complacency, as we will maintain and improve on our surveillance system as well as raise the childhood population immunity against the poliovirus to avoid any spread of the disease. The federal government will sustain the current momentum and we shall continue to regard this campaign as an emergency until we are declared polio free in the next two years,” the president said.
He disclosed that during a meeting he held with the high advocacy group, on August 31, he gave a clear directive to the federal ministry of health to work towards ensuring the sustenance of the campaign.
He said he had also held the anti-polio drive with state governors and other stakeholders involving mainly representatives from the eleven polio high risk states in order to raise awareness and maintain vigilance
“I would like to re-iterate the federal government’s commitment towards the achievement of a polio free Nigeria in 2017. The Government will sustain the needed funding for operations and vaccine procurement for the programme. Also, the Presidential Taskforce on Polio Eradication will be reconstituted under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to provide political direction and over-sighting order to avoid complacency and replace.
“I would like to place on record my recommendation for the vaccinators, community mobilisers, partners, parents and caregivers who have supported the polio eradication initiative of government through the years,” Buhari said.
The president also commended efforts of the WHO, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, US-CDC, Rotary International, and a host of others who had contributed financially and materially to the over-all efforts.
He assured them Nigeria would not rest on its oars until the battle against polio was won and sustained.
— October 28, 2015 @ 5:00 GMT