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Nigeria must strengthen immunization programme to avoid polio outbreaks—NPHCDA

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Nigeria must strengthen immunization programme to avoid polio outbreaks---NPHCDAThe National Primary Health Care Development Agency(NPHCDA) says report from Malawi indicates that Nigeria must strengthen her immunization system in order to avoid an outbreak of Wild Polio Virus(WPV).

The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, stated this while delivering his speech at the 38th Expert Review Committee(ERC) Meeting on Polio and Routine in Abuja on Monday.

The NPHCDA boss lamented that the the Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2(cVDPV2), has been a major concern during the last ERC meeting and has snow-balled into greater proportions to become one of the greatest challenges the country has faced in the polio programme, apart from the recent detection of Wild Polio Virus type 1 (WPV1) in Malawi in February, and WPV 3 report in Israel this March as this brings it very close to home that it is not over until it is over.

“The 37th ERC had offered us guidance on how to contain cVPV2 spread, which has unfortunately now spread more to affect 29 States of the federation and FCT, including states in the Southern zones of the country.

“One of this guidance was the use of novel Oral Polio vaccine (nOPV2) which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of cVPV2”.

Shuaib noted that all 36 States and FCT have completed at least two rounds of nOPV2, 18 states have completed at least four rounds of nOPV2 Outbreak Response, 3 states have completed three rounds, while an additional 16 states have completed at least two rounds of nOPV2 Outbreak response.

“Our surveillance system has remained robust despite the global COVID-19 pandemic that had a negative impact on the health system”.

“In 2020, our surveillance had picked and detected 22 cases of CDVPV2, in 2021, 1027 cases and in 2022, 11 cases have already been detected”.

Nigeria must strengthen immunization programme to avoid polio outbreaks---NPHCDA

“Although the figures may look scary, it is a demonstration that our surveillance system is effective, reliable and also means that if there is an Wild Polio Virus in circulation, it would have been detected”.

Speaking further, Shuaib said apart from the negative economic and social impact of COVID-19, it has also affected immunization programmes, wherein planned campaigns were suspended to address the pandemic.

He However said, it is heart-warming to announce that about 19,316, 980 Nigerians have been vaccinated with first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 8,799,052 have taken second dose; while 725,459 have taken the booster dose.

This, He said is the actuality, a far cry from the government’s plan to vaccinate 50 percent of the total population of the country by the end of March 2022.

Shuaib expressed optimism that with the rolled out of SCALES Strategy and the Mass Vaccination Campaign (MVC) presently ongoing across the country, the NPHCDA is expecting a massive jump in the COVID-19 uptake across the country.

“We now have vaccines, so we have now drilled down to microplanning starting from the ward level, to Local Government to State and then to National, having a bottom up approach”.

Similarly in his address, the Chairman of the Expert Review Committee on Polio and Routine Immunization, Prof Akin Osibogun admitted that the Committee is faced with the challenge of cVPV2 which has now been compounded by the recent report of detection of the wild polio virus in Malawi.

Osibogun alluded to the fact that the ease on human travel, has made it imperative for the committe to bringing the Nigerian Polio Eradication programme thus far and should not give room for another importation or outbreak of polio virus.

“Nigeria has fought a long and hard battle with the wild polio virus before its certification as wild polio virus free country.

“With the recent wild Polio virus type 1 in Malawi it has become imperative for us to urgently put in place strategies to prevent importation of the virus”.

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