Polio Rotary International commits N2.49bn grant to end disease

Rotary’s donation is in response to the recent reports of two new cases of wild polio-virus detected in Nigeria.

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Polio immunisation campaign. play

Polio immunisation campaign.

(AFP/File)
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To effectively fight polio in Nigeria and countries in Lake Chad Basin Region, the Rotary International announced a grant of 8.15 million dollars (N2.49 billion) towards the commitment.

Mrs Boade Akinola, the Director of Media and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

She said that the Rotary’s announcement was in response to the recent reports of two new cases of wild polio-virus detected in Nigeria

The two cases were detected in July and August after the last case was reported in July 2014.
The ministry said that with these new cases, funding for polio eradication was particularly vital as rapid response plans were on stream in Nigeria.

The fund will also cover adjacent countries in the Lake Chad Basin which include Chad, Northern Cameroon, Southern Niger and Central African Republic to forestall possible outbreak and prevent its spread.

The Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are working together to immunise children in Nigeria.

The ministry acknowledged significant efforts of donor agencies in the fight against polio.
It said that with the 26 cases of the polio reported globally in 2016, polio remained a threat in hard-to-reach and under-served areas and conflict zones.

The ministry quoted Michael McGovern, the Chairman Rotary International Polio-plus Committee as expressing disappointment with the recent news coming out of Nigeria.

“This situation underscores the extreme importance of widespread immunisation campaigns and strong disease surveillance in all countries of the world until polio is fully eradicated,’’ McGovern was quoted as saying.

He expressed optimism that the funding would help stem incidences of polio.

McGovern said that Rotary and its partners would leave no stone unturned to sustain the progress recorded in polio eradication and stop transmission in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Experts said there is need for full funding and political commitment to prevent polio from returning to previously polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in August, The World Health Organisation (WHO) had expressed deep sympathy over the detection of new cases of wild polio virus in Nigeria after more than two years without wild polio virus.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, while reacting to the development, said that the organisation was deeply saddened by the news that two Nigerian children were paralysed by polio.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two Nigerian children have been paralyzed by polio.

"The Government has made significant strides to stop this paralysing disease in recent years.

"The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunise all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease," Moeti said.

NAN reports that the WHO requires three years with no confirmed cases before declaring a region polio-free.

The two cases, in Nigeria particularly highlight the need to prioritise immunisation of children in hard-to-reach areas such as the Lake Chad region which spans several countries and is often affected by conflict and large population movements.

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