As the world mark World Polio Day on Sunday, Rotary International said it has spent $2.2 billion globally to end polio across the world, while immunising with its partners over 400 million children annually.
The 2021 PolioPlus key message made available to Blueprint in Kaduna, said Rotary has been fighting to eradicate polio for over three decades and remains fully committed to a polio-free world.
“When Rotary formed its PolioPlus program in 1985, a thousand children were being paralysed by polio every single day in 125 polio-endemic countries.
“Today, just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan. With only one case of wild poliovirus reported in each of Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2021 (as of 14 October) we have an unprecedented opportunity epidemiologically to stop wild Poliovirus transmission. This is the lowest number of cases that either country has ever reported.
“On August 25 2020, the WHO African region was officially certified free of wild poliovirus. This certification came four years after Nigeria – the last polio-endemic country in Africa – recorded its final case of wild polio. This milestone was an incredible public health achievement for Rotary members, Africa, and our Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, and a step forward on the road to global polio eradication,” it said.
The World Polio Day was marked in Kaduna with a rally and visit to victims of polio. Rotary Field Coordinator Kaduna, Rotarian Grace Sadiku, said the rally was to create awareness on keeping polio at zero, even as she decried presence of inaccessible areas and unreached children due to the ongoing banditry and insurgency.
“We are encouraging people to keep polio at zero. We don’t want to have any cases any longer.
“We want every child to be immunised from zero to five years against poliomyelitis, because when they reject polio, the child can be crippled for life as there is no medication that can save the child. We have inaccessible areas where we do ‘hit and run’ with security agencies, once there is clearance. We have areas that we call totally inaccessible in Birnin Gwari and Chikun but we believe one day we would reach out to the children there,” she said.
Vaccine advocate, Pharm. Abdullahi Galadima, decried low level of routine immunisation in Nigeria.
“I’m not yet impressed with the level of RI performance in Kaduna state and Nigeria because our coverage is below the national target. Our approach towards vaccination needs lots of overhauling. To maintain zero polio, government needs to play better roles, citizens needs to compliment government efforts and better coordination from the development partners,” he said.
Also speaking, Rotary state representative in polio, Rotarian Taye Y. Imam, said Rotary has been trying its best to reach out to the last unreached child, noting that the ongoing process has been fraught with challenges but they are unrelenting.