6/23/2010

Global Polio Initiative to Build on Nigeria’s 99% Drop

Global Polio Initiative to Build on Nigeria’s 99% Drop

From Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, 06.21.2010
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative said weekend it was building its new polio eradication strategy on Nigeria’s successful campaign against the disease that led to 99 per cent drop in polio cases even as it said it faced a 50 per cent funding gap.
This coincided with the latest statistics that over 177,000 children under the age of five die of pneumonia in Nigeria yearly. Director, Alliances and Information, International Vaccine Access Centre, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States, Lois Privor-Dumm, dropped the hint in Abuja.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a coalition of national governments, World Health Organisation (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), which launched its 2010-2012 Strategic Plan for interrupting polio worldwide, said 10 out of the 15 previously polio-free countries re-infected in 2009 had successfully stopped their outbreaks.
“Nowhere is progress more evident than Nigeria, where case numbers have plummeted by more than 99 per cent  from 312 cases at this time last year, to three in 2010,” it said.
It said stakeholders are meeting in Geneva to build on the gains already made in 2010 and to galvanise new action on polio eradication.

“Last month, the World Health Assembly welcomed the new plan while expressing deep concern about the $1.3 billion funding shortfall out of a budget of $2.6 billion over the next three years. This financing shortfall is a serious risk to the eradication of polio.  Activities are already being cut back or postponed due to  lack of funds.
“The Ministers of Health of Nigeria, Afghanistan, Angola and Senegal, among a number of other senior health ministry officials, existing and potential funders, vaccine manufacturers and key partner organisations will attend the meeting, co-hosted by WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan and the new UNICEF Executive Director, Tony Lake, to discuss the implementation, monitoring, economics and financing of the new plan”,a statement by WHO, said.
The new plan, it said, builds on major lessons learnt to date,including findings from a major independent evaluation examining the remaining barriers to eradication. It introduces district- and area-specific strategies to target the ever-shrinking remaining reservoirs of poliovirus, exploits the game-changing bivalent oral polio vaccine to increase the impact of immunisations, and tackles health system weaknesses. The success of this plan now hinges on implementation of activities at field level and the provision of adequate financing.

Privor-Dumn, who spoke at the weekend in Abuja, on the challenge of pneumonia, described the situation as unacceptable and blamed the high morbidity rate on poor vaccine coverage of the disease in the country.
She decried the fact that a preventable and treatable disease such as pneumonia kill thousands of Nigerian children.She commended the Dr Muhammad Ali-Pate-led National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA) for sourcing for an enlarged supply of the pneumonia vaccine, but maintained that with 500 children dying of the disease daily, government must intensify its efforts in this regard.

“The World Bank, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA, and the GAVI Alliance are all working towards making the vaccine available for routine immunisation.
“But we must tell the world we need the vaccines now. This is because we must make sure the vaccines reach children, because a child being in the rural or urban area should not be a determinant to his receiving the vaccine”, she said.

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