Nigeria and Africa on track to eradicating poliomyelitis, according to Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole during an announcement at the African Regional Commission for Certification for Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) meeting in Abuja.
“Our decision to host this meeting today is anchored on our resolve to liberate Nigeria and indeed Africa from the scourge of poliomyelitis. It is my conviction that this meeting will provide workable strategies that will enable us decimate poliomyelitis in the region”, says the Minister
In May 2012, the World Health Assembly (WHA) declared polio eradication as a global public health emergency. To put an end to the crippling disease, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan (PEESP) 2013–2018.
The ARCC is an independent body established in 1998 by the WHO Regional Director for Africa to oversee the certification process in Africa. The only body to certify that the Africa region is free of polio, ARCC meets biannually to review certification documentation and updates from countries in the region.
The Chair of the ARCC agreed with the Minister’s optimism as she said, “A remarkable progress has been made toward interruption of the transmission of wild polio virus (WPV) in the Africa region. The latest WPV case in the region was a type1 virus reported from Borno. We applaud the efforts and commitment of the Nigeria government, which has resulted in no wild poliovirus for more than 22 months”
Professor Leke however warned that despite progress achieved, “We need to remain more vigilant to avoid missing any transmission or importation of polioviruses especially in security compromised areas”.
The official opening of ARCC meeting in Abuja by the Honorable Minister of Health will entail presentations from 10 countries (Nigeria included), meeting with country teams, review and update of ARCC 2017-2019 Plan of action as well as draw key points of the ARCC update to WHO Africa Regional Director.
The World Health Organization Country Representative who presented a goodwill message on behalf of partners thanked the Nigeria government for accepting to host the meeting, facilitating administrative and logistics arrangements to ensure a successful and meaningful meeting.
The primary requirements for certifying the region as free of poliovirus include the absence of wild polio WPV for a minimum of 3 consecutive years in all countries of the region and presence of high quality certification standard acute flaccid paralysis surveillance in all countries for the last three years. Other considerations are immunization coverage for oral polio vaccine (above 90%), a robust national polio outbreak preparedness and response plan and a functional National Polio Certification Committee.
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