US Wages War Against Polio In Nigeria

THE United States government has stated its decision to work with stakeholders in the health sector to kick polio out of the country totally. This decision was made known in Abuja during the week by a US special envoy, Mr. Rashad Hussain, at a meeting with officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

Hussain, who was received by the board chairman of NPHCDA, Dr. Haliru Yahaya, said that the US was ready to partner with Nigeria because polio is a global health issue that all governments and stakeholders have the responsibility to eradicate.

He commended traditional and religious leaders in the country for their roles in the eradication of the health challenge and states his country’s decision to invite Nigeria’s health minister, Prof.Christian Chukwu to the upcoming World Health Assembly billed to hold in Geneva in two weeks.

Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, in his presentation at the meeting, noted that four countries have remained endemic to polio with Nigeria having two cases in Zamfara and Delta states. India has 19 cases, Pakistan, 14 and Afganistan, eight cases, making up the PAIN countries worst hit by polio. The cases in Nigeria was brought down from eight in 2009 to two this year.

This achievement was attributed to joint efforts by primary healthcare stakeholders, religious and traditional leaders. He said that there was a $192 million budget deficit for the implementation of projects between 2010 and 2012.

Yahaya attributed the success recorded in Nigeria so far to teamwork and a committed ministry. He added that with the level of commitment exhibited by all, polio would be totally eradicated from Nigeria in the next five years. “Polio has shown the weakness in our health system, and getting it out will strengthen our primary health system,” he said.

Representative of Nigerian Interfaith Association, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, said the role of the association was to assist agencies in primary health care to achieve wholeness of human life and encourage people to partake in immunization exercises because people believe in their religious leaders.

“Tell President Obama that we are ready to work together. The people of faith will provide the leadership. Politician come and go but faith leaders stay longer in office; and with us, you will succeed,” he told the US envoy.

At the event which also had some polio victims in attendance, President of Polio Victims Association, Musibau Lawan Didi, called on the government to include victims in the various poverty reduction programmes going on in the country in order to alleviate the situation of people affected by the challenge.

He said the organization had until now, worked with the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in its campaign and immunization against polio, as they had worked vigorously to convince the rural people on the need to accept vaccination.

Discussants at the meeting wanted political parties to include primary healthcare in their manifestoes, while they suggested that the government should collaborate with neighbouring country, Chad, to stage campaigns at the border area in order to avoid re-infection.



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