After a long battle, Nigeria last weekend was declared a guinea worm free nation by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In an address delivered in Abuja by Minister of health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, 27th March will, in the history of Nigeria remain GWD (Guinea Worm Day) eradication day.
While telling the history of the Nigerian Guinea worm Eradication program (NIGEP) which commenced in 1988, he said 653,620 Guinea worm cases were reported in 5,879 villages nationwide.
“However, the disease was intercepted in 2008 which finally led to Nigeria getting certified in December 2013”, he said. The feat according to the minister was not unconnected to surveillance, safe water supply, vector control using Abate, use of monofilament nylon material for filtering water, adding also that, “The achievement was possible based on the collaboration with partners such as WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, JICA, the Carter Centre and the Yakubu Gowon Centre”, he said.
Speaking further, he said the battle is still on as there is need for provision of clean water for consumption especially in rural areas which other sectors of government should ensure.
In his remarks, the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon commended former President Jimmy Carter of the United States of America for calling his attention to the then “high spread” of Guinea worm disease.
According to the former leader, the call encouraged him (Gowon) to move to the field where he saw cases that were pathetic. “Then I vowed to do whatever it will take to eradicate Guinea worm, hence the birth of Yakubu Gowon Centre”, he stated.
General Gowon however commended former minister of health, Prof A.B.C Nwosu, Carter Centre and WHO for their effort. Also in his remarks, the WHO representative to Nigeria, Dr. Rui Gama Gaz called on Nigerian government to continue with the surveillance system saying there is no chance to lose sleep based on the certification.