Lagos government says it is committed to save all her under five children (U5) from the resurgent Polio which was recently discovered in the State.
This is against the background that for 12 years on, the state has been free of the deadly and crippling Wild Poliomyelitis Virus (WPV) only for a resurgence of the Environmental Type 2, deadly variant never seen in Nigeria.
Speaking at a joint stakeholders’ Town Hall meeting, Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health, Dr. Titilayo Goncalves noted that since May when the first leg of the Polio Immunisation Campaign held, the state has made giant strides to cover as many communities to ensure all children between 0-59 months get vaccinated against the deadly Polio.
According to her, “There is no gainsaying that child health is a pivotal and critical aspect of public health.
“It is actually the foundation of a healthy and virile citizenry. Hence the present administration of His Excellency, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is very passionate in ensuring that no child in Lagos suffers disability or die as a result of vaccine preventable diseases”, noted Goncalves.
She appealed that for four days between June 15 and 18 when the exercise will hold, trained health officials already mobilized will move from house to house, churches, mosques, markets, public places and on the streets to immunize every child below the age of 5 against the deadly virus.
Speaking on the renewed concerted effort to save U5 children from resurgent Polio in states bothering Lagos, the Chief Index Officer, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Usman Adamu said, this was due to the recent discovery of the strain of the Environmental Poliomyelitis Virus in water around Makoko, Itire and Maracana areas of Lagos during routine surveillance carried out by Health Officials.
According to Adamu, in a presentation: “Role of Media and key Messages on Polio Vaccination Campaign”, the National Surveillance Officer urged media personnel to support the drive with appropriate messages that will ensure those protesting against repeated Polio immunisation of their children understand the devastating and deadly effects of the new strain of virus which he said “ though a Type 2 which not seen here before but it’s found in dirty environments, spread by fecal means and dirty, polluted water and it’s equally virulent and crippling that is, it causes paralysis of the limbs and can also kill”, said Adamu.
WHO Immunisations Officer, Fiona Braka noted that for 32 months on, Nigeria has not recorded an episode of wild polio but this new resurgent Polio variant must be destroyed before it destroys our children”.
Another parther, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) represented by Hayon Nam pleaded for the public support of everyone to ensure every child in the state is immunized “regardless of the previous immunisation status, by allowing the vaccinators give the children the drop of the oral polio vaccine which is very safe and effective”, she said.
Speaking further on the disabling effect of Polio, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Tayo Lawal noted, “Poliomyelitis (commonly called polio) is a viral disease yet to be eradicated in Nigeria. It is one of the major vaccine-preventable killer diseases of children under the age of five. It is a highly contagious faeco-oral disease that can be easily transmitted through poor personal and environmental hygiene.
“The polio virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water; it multiplies in the intestine from where it can invade the nervous system.
“An infected child can develop symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, nausea, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In some cases, it could lead to paralysis which most of the time is irreversible or in fatal cases results in death. The only means of prevention of the polio disease is through the oral polio vaccination” said Lawal
He adeed, “As a State, tremendous progress has been made, in our drive to eradicate polio and drastically reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases and its attendant morbidity and mortality. ”
“We, therefore, exude optimism that we are on the home stretch of this marathon race against the public health disease called polio”, Lawal assured.