The Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio (ARCC) has commended Nigeria’s polio eradication initiatives.
The commission recommended a robust support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders to address proportion of unreached children in security compromised areas.
The recommendations of the meeting were presented on Friday in Abuja by Dr Kofi Kouadio, Regional Polio Certification Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
Kouadio said the meeting recommended that WHO and Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners should support Nigeria to enhance surveillance and routine immunisation gaps in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting also recommends that Nigeria should provide regular updates on proportions of unreached population and territories through various data sources.
“Following detailed review, ARCC accepted complete documentation from Madagascar supporting polio-free status of the country.
“ARCC reviewed in details, the Update and Progress Reports from eight countries such as Angola, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya and Nigeria,’’ he said.
He said ARCC observed a continued decline in immunisation coverage in majority of the reviewed countries and recommended that countries should implement specific strategies to raise and sustain routine immunisation as a core polio eradication strategy.
He said the meeting acknowledged the on-going work by the Lake Chad Basin coordination team that has improved levels of implementation of polio eradication activities and more information on access to some difficult areas.
He said the meeting was concerned about the lack of surveillance to about 178 islands belonging to Nigeria and the ban to access islands belonging to Niger Republic and around the Lake Chad basin.
The meeting, according to Kouadio, therefore recommended that WHO and partners should work with the two countries with regard to the island, adding that Lake Chad Task Team should regularly provide updates to the commission.
Prof. Rose Leke, Chairperson of ARCC, said the commission has discussed with each country and made specific recommendations for them.
She explained that generally, surveillance has to be of high quality and routine immunisation must be strengthened in all the countries.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said unless we got access to the inaccessible areas and ascertain that there was no more wild polio virus, Nigeria cannot be certified as polio-free-state.
Adewole, represented by Dr Dorothy Nwodo, said the Federal Government has started working on shrinking the inaccessible areas by deploying soldiers to support health workers to deliver immunisation in Borno.
Nwodo, Director, Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA), said Nigeria would strengthen its collaboration with development partners to address issues militating against achieving a polio-free Nigeria.
NAN reports that the five-day meeting started on June 18 and ended on Friday, June 22.
The meeting was aimed at updating the participants on the status of polio eradication initiative globally and in the African region.