By Azoma Chikwe
Nigeria may not be compeled to undergo three years window period by the World Health Organisation(WHO) before being certified polio free if adequate surveillance system is in place.
Disclosing this in a reception for Chairman, International Polio Plus Committee(IPPC), Mr Michael McGovern and Director, Polioplus Division, Evanston, Carol Pandok, to mark one year without polio in Nigeria since 2016, Chairman Nigeria Polioplus Committee(NPPC), Dr Tunji Funsho said Nigeria is celebrating one year without polio since two cases were detected in Internal Displaced Persons’(IDPs) camp in North-East Nigeria in August ,2016.”We are celebrating today, one year without polio but we are not relaxing, it takes just one child to start the outbreak again. If you go two years without polio, and there is a strong surveillance system and WHO is sure of that, the country may be certified polio free. The regulation is three years mandatory window period, but there is a clause to it. That is two years without polio and a WHO certified strong surveillance system.
“Rotary has more than 1.2 million members spread across 171 countries. So, we are in a unique position to ensure that any disease are eradicated. Polio is one of the diseases that is spread from hand to mouth. When water and food is contaminated, polio is spread.”
McGovern said,” Today marks one year since the last case of polio in Nigeria. It is an exciting day because the end of polio in Nigeria is at sight. We ought to do something for those who gave their lives for polio in the country. We decided the best we should do is to give scholarship to their children. It is good to be thankful to those who dedicated their lives to public health.
“I want to thank Rotarians who are here today to give services to eradicate polio from village to village, city to city. We believe the cases of polio last year will be the last cases of polio in Nigeria.”
Introducing, Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw, as celebrity ambassador for polio eradiction, Funsho said,”she is a passionate persion in anything she believes in. She joined Rotary club a year ago. With her background as actress in Nollywood, she is more positioned for the task ahead.”
Henshaw thanked Rotary for the opportunity to serve and pledged to do her best, use her connections and experience to ensure that “ that our people and leaders are committed to this cause,” she said.
District Governor, Rotary, Lagos and Ogun states, Dr Wale Ogunbadejo, said, “As at today, ,polio is endemic in only three countries and effects less than 100 children yearly.We have achieved about 99.9 per cent success so far.World governments,corporate organisation, individuals and other NGOs especially Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, later joined the coalition over the years.Most of these collaboration occurred through Rotary’s advocacy.
“As at 2015, Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion, lost some volunteers while our advocacy has resulted in more than $9 billion contribution from world government.
At the last rotary international convention in Atlanta, the need for $1.5b was raised and a pledge of $1.2b made by rotary international, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, other NGOs and governments, including our government. This is the end game pledge as our hope is the eradication of polio within the next three years from the surface of the earth. The eradication of polio in Nigeria and the whole world is a task that must be done according to the end game plan.”