According to a World Health Organization (WHO) press report, after more than two years without wild poliovirus in Nigeria, the government has reported that 2 children have been paralyzed by the disease in the northern Borno state.
The release noted that the government of Nigeria is working in collaboration with WHO and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to respond urgently and prevent more children from being paralyzed.
These steps include conducting large-scale immunization campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help catch the virus early. These activities are also being strengthened in neighboring countries.
“We are deeply saddened by the news that 2 Nigerian children have been paralyzed by polio. The government has made significant strides to stop this paralyzing disease in recent years. The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunize all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease”, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
WHO noted that genetic sequencing of the viruses suggests that the new cases are most closely linked to a wild poliovirus strain last detected in Borno in 2011.
It also stated that low-level transmission of the poliovirus is not unexpected, particularly in areas where it is difficult to reach children with the vaccine. Subnational surveillance gaps persist in some areas of Borno as well as in areas of neighboring countries.
“We are confident that with a swift response and strong collaboration with the Nigerian government, we can soon rid the country of polio once and for all. This is an important reminder that the world cannot afford to be complacent as we are on the brink of polio eradication – we will only be done when the entire world has been certified polio-free,” said Dr. Michel Zaffran, Director of polio eradication at WHO Headquarters.
Carol Maye, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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