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OPINION: Towards preventing polio outbreak in Ogun



Journalists take polio campaign to Kano communities as virus hits 5 northern states

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and caused irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours, March 2013 was the last time the case of polio was reported in Nigeria, in FCT Abuja.

OPINION: Towards preventing polio outbreak in Ogun

It is rather unfortunate that we are also hearing about the case of another polio outbreak in Taraba State. The first case of polio virus recorded in Dissol, Wuryo ward in 2012. As World Health Organization (WHO) independent monitor during immunization plus days in 2010 covering two villages, Ogbooro and Agbonle in Saki East LGA of Oyo state, I discovered that some health workers employed by Local Government to administer the vaccine to children do not reach remote villages, but throw away valuable life-saving vaccines. Though we have not heard of any polio case in Oyo State but this attitude calls for concern so that the officials in charge of the vaccines in different states can take note.

Although up to 95% of polio cases show no symptoms, a small number of people may have fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhoea.

There are three types of polio (1) Non-Paralytic; this type of polio does not lead to paralysis (2) Spiral Paralytic; this can result in the paralysis of one or more limbs, and (3) Bulbar; this can result in weak muscles, reflex loss and respiratory problems.

The polio virus is found in saliva and faces of sick people, it can be spread by direct contact with sick people or through the air, when a sick person talks, coughs or sneezes. It is also spread by food, water or hands contaminated with infected feaces.

In 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis usually of the legs among those paralyzed, 5 to 10% of patients die when breathing and muscles become immobilised, and about 2 to 5 children out of 100 who have paralysis from polio die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.

For more than two decades mankind has been dreaming of Polio Free World, however  the dream is yet to be realized due to various problems related to transmission of wild polio virus, transmission of wild polio  virus , transmission  as well as vaccine – derived polio  virus.

Although Polio cases have decreased more than 99% since 1988 from an estimated 350,000 cases to 416 cases in 2013. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.

It is of note to know that Jonal Salk produced the 1st polio vaccine in 1952 which is the best way to prevent polio because there is no cure for polio.

The United States Centre for Disease Control recommends polio vaccination boosters for travellers and those who live in countries where the disease is occurring, once infected there is no specific treatment. Although Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has played a  huge  role funding  the roll out of polio vaccines in Nigeria  and other affected countries there are still problems affecting ‘kick polio out of Nigeria.

These problems are as much scientific as human the need in Nigeria is to ‘stop politicizing polio achieving control over Nigeria is of utmost importance because it is the only infective focus in whole of Africa, even in Nigeria as at today some miscreants are spreading rumors and these rumors leads to the questioning the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Parents still refuse vaccination for religious and superstitious reasons.

Poor organization, corruption and lack of determination among health care workers are part of problems that affect the eradication of polio virus, the media and health activist groups until lately too have failed to lobby effectively to pressurize the Government, security issues also crop up in some regions often thereby leading to failure of vaccination programs.

Inaccessible areas with geographical barriers which lead to children being mostly accessible and health workers face difficulty in maintaining polio campaigns successfully.

The need now is not to be lax   with regards to polio but to step up surveillance and continue funding polio efforts. Polio anywhere   is after all polio is everywhere.

In Ogun State with the population of about 5 .1 million people and with 20 Local governments must be commended for the welfare of the children. It was reported  that Governor Ibikunle Amosun  recently launched  the 2016 second immunization days in Abeokuta, where he charged  the council  chairmen and  traditional  rulers  to handle exercise  with all seriousness it deserves.

Though, the state has no case of polio but it is our collective responsibility to keep the virus at bay. I now enjoin religious leaders to join in the fight against polio so that our little children will not be victims of this preventable disease.

Federal Ministry of Health should not relent in its campaigns until polio is totally eradicated, every states is at risk because the virus spreads fast through person-to-person contact.

According to Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), polio remains endemic in three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. It is therefore embarrassing that Nigeria is still one of only three countries where polio still exists. The global body also said, “until polio virus transmission is interrupted in these three countries, all countries remain at risk of polio”.

I guess it will not speak well that Nigeria is the one exporting the polio virus to neighbouring countries, I now call on the three Senators from the state, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, from Ogun Central Senatorial District; Senator Buruji Kashamu, from Ogun East Senatorial District; and Senator Gbolahan Dada, from Ogun West Senatorial District and nine other members of House of Representatives to join the fight against polio in their respective constituencies.

The neighbouring States with Ogun, like Lagos, Oyo and Osun, as well as Benin Republic, must also watch against polio outbreak in their respective domains.


***Ogungbade writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital

Oluwakemi Ogungbade

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. The Verge Communications (NEWSVERGE) is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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