World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have congratulated Nigeria on being declared free of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV).
WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, disclosed this in a statement posted on its website.
The independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication on Tuesday, officially declared WHO African Region is free of wild poliovirus.
The statement stated that while the UN agencies congratulated Nigeria on the status, they emphasised that achieving the milestone was not the end of the job – all children under five years must continue to be vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases.
This is critical to significantly reduce avoidable mortality in Nigerian children under five years old, keep polio permanently out of Nigeria and ensure better health and well being for future generations.
The UN agencies also congratulated fellow Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners in Nigeria who helped reach this achievement: Rotary International; the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
They also congratulated Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) as well as Nigerian traditional and religious leaders and volunteer community mobilisers as the foot soldiers who fought to free Nigerian children from the wild poliovirus which Rotary international played a major role in.
The statement quoted Dr Walter Mulumbo, WHO Nigeria Country Representative, as saying: “WHO rejoices with the people and government of Nigeria and acknowledges that wild polio-free certification is undoubtedly the greatest public health.
“It acknowledges that the certification is the greatest triumph in the annals of Nigeria and indeed Africa that will bequeath to posterity lessons learnt and best practices for addressing future public health interventions.
“Both UN agencies expressed strong appreciation for the role played by all stakeholders, especially the commitment and support of the Nigerian government at all levels, Rotary International, development partners, donors, traditional and community leaders, health workers and caregivers.
“This milestone is a clarion call to urgently rededicate resources to stopping the transmission of all types of poliovirus, strengthening routine immunisation to sustain the gains achieved – especially in high-risk areas and traditional polio sanctuaries – and maintaining high-quality surveillance.’’
Similarly, the statement quoted UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, as saying: “It is a momentous achievement that calls for a celebration.
“This historic achievement not only signifies the end of the wild poliovirus across the entire African continent but is also a significant springboard towards attaining global polio eradication.