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Nigeria introduces new vaccine regime to fight polio

Emeka Anuforo Abuja

WHO lauds progress in disease eradication efforts

NIGERIA has introduced the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) into the nation’s routine immunization schedule.

Also, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said Monday that Nigeria was on course to interrupting the transmission of the wild polio virus.

It will be recalled that the World Health Assembly in May 2012 declared the completion of poliovirus eradication to be a programmatic emergency for global public health and called for a comprehensive polio endgame strategy.

As one of its four major objectives, the plan calls on all oral polio vaccine (OPV)-only using countries to introduce at least one dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) into routine immunization schedules by the end of 2015, strengthen routine immunization and withdraw OPV in a phased manner, starting with type 2-containing OPV.

Drawing from this, and in line with its targets of being the next polio free nation, Nigeria has now introduced IPV, with the Federal Capital Territory billed to first receive the inactivated polio vaccine.

A statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) quoted Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Alhassan Khaliru, as emphasizing the triple benefits accruable from the use of the IPV.

These, he said, include risk mitigation against wild poliovirus type 2, boosting immunity against types 1 and 3 as well as tackling the risk of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).

Khaliru said: “These provide a quantum-leap opportunity for Nigeria in the polio eradication end game strategy.”

WHO Country Representative (WR), Dr. Rui Gama Vaz described IPV as a very safe and highly effective in preventing paralytic disease caused by all three types of polio viruses.

According to the WHO, “ Nigeria remains one of the three countries with endemic polio transmission. Substantial progress has been made in recent years towards polio eradication with no case of WPV1 being reported in the last six months and no reported cases of WPV3 since Nov 2013.

“There are significant positive trends in improving routine immunization coverage with the reported OPV3 coverage of 67% in 2013 compared with 54% in 2010 (WHO-UNICEF Estimates 2013). However, there was an increase in circulating vaccine derived polioviruses cVDPV type 2 in 2014 with 30 cases reported.”

Vaz commended the government on the progress made so far towards interrupting polioviruses transmission and noted that IPV will boost the immunity of children and hasten polio interruption from Nigeria. He also pledged continued support in strengthening routine immunization and health systems to sustain the gains.

He, however, cautioned against complacency in finishing polio in the country, as there are still risks of circulation and re-infection.

PUBLISHED: Monday, 23 February 2015 21:17

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