By; Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna.
As Nigeria awaits polio free certification by 2017, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it is vigilant and prepared in identifying and tackling any case that may hamper the process.
Speaking at a two-day Zonal Polio Communication Review Meeting for UNICEF polio team across five state in Northern Nigeria Wednesday in Kaduna, Chief of Communication For Development (C4D), UNICEF Nigeria, Anis Siddique, said their focus is on all possible areas of transmission to ensure that no case of the virus is recorded until 2017 and beyond.
“Polio virus does not require passport or visa to come, it can come and we don’t know how it come, just as Nigeria export polio to other African countries in the past, there are some other countries that still has polio, the same way Nigeria use to send to other countries the same way other countries can bring to Nigeria.
“So that is the risk, we are very vigilant, we have built a network, that is the reason for the polio campaigns every two or three months, so you see we are very much on track.”
Avis, commended Nigeria for doing wonderful job the in fight against the polio, adding that, “now we are looking for the polio certification, hopefully by next year August Nigeria will be certified polio free.
“So we are still going to have very high resilience programme and the children will be vaccinated so that no virus should come from outside the country because there are still few country having the polio virus so we need to be vigilant, even after that the vaccination will continue because the vaccine will be withdrawn in phases.”
He blamed the early resistance from the Northern part of the country on behavioural issue that created a kind of perception that the polio vaccine was something meant to reduce their population, calling on participants of the meeting to build the right information and knowledge that will help the people to behave rightly.
Also speaking, Uptal Moitra, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, said the objective of the meeting is to address issues pertaining to the changing C4D environment and share important information so as to empower state teams to adapt appropriately, review progress and also to chart ways of further consolidating the gains of polio communication for the remainder of 2016 as the Nigeria steadily edges towards Polio eradication.
He explained that at the end of the meeting, participants will understand the new C4D focus they are supporting and their roles, understand the new one PHC per ward strategy and the C4D role they are anticipated to play at state and Local Government Area (LGAs) levels in supporting the demand creation effort.
He added that state teams will also share progress and ideas, using the forum to learn from each other, challenges facing teams will also be identified and action points for implementation will be raised.
He reiterates that UNICEF as a supporting agent is working to ensure that both state and LGAs are able to fulfill their responsibilities to their citizens.
Five Northern States of Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara are participating in the meeting.