From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has confirmed that 395 cases of Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) have been reported in 27 states and FCT.
It, however, debunked some media reports that there was Wild Polio Virus (WPV) circulating in Nigeria. It explained that it was Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) which is different from WPV that was circulating, and 395 cases have been reported in 27 states and the FCT.
Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, in a statement, on Thursday, said that new tools and resources have been acquired to ensure the outbreaks are contained through robust outbreak responses using the novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV2) which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of the cMPV2.
‘All 36 States and FCT have completed at least one nOPV2 Outbreak Response (OBR). Several other rounds of the OBR as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged O-5 years old using Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunization coverage beyond pre-COVID values,’ he said in the statement.
He assured Nigerians that the NPHCDA and its partners would continue to conduct surveillance and vaccination campaigns to prevent and contain any possible importation of WPV into the country.
Dr Faisal reiterated the importance of parents and caregivers bringing their children for routine immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 certified Nigeria and African Region WPV free following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) which spanned three years of no detection of WPV.
NPHCDA, however, confirmed that to date, there has been no case of WPV reported anywhere in the country, explaining that cMPV2 outbreaks are often caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunization coverage, and missing children during immunization campaigns.
NPHCDA also explained that the suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunization because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps which led to new and wider outbreaks, and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.
It also explained that the viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water, and these factors have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal.
‘Also, malnutrition occasioned by increasing poverty was also a predisposing factor in exposed children. These non-wild polioviruses which originated because of normal changes in the reproduction of viruses in the environment are not as virulent as WPV and are also being reported in many other countries,’ NPHCDA explained.