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Published On: Wed, Aug 28th, 2019

Towards eradicating poliomyelitis in Nigeria

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By Wycliffe Sunday

Poliomyelitis popularly known as polio which often leads to childhood paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. It is on record that about 0.5 percent of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. It is a well known fact that poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects infants. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Early symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. According to experts, there is no known cure for polio, but only be prevented by immunization.
Indeed, it is obvious that child is a gift from God which should be nurtured to adulthood. This can be done when the child got required medical attention like taking complete doses of vaccines which serves as preventive measure against deadly diseases. One of the cardinal responsibilities of government to its citizens is to ensure that people live a healthy life by protecting the younger ones who are vulnerable to killer diseases. It is achieved through administering of vaccines on them.
However, one of the child’s killer diseases is polio which the government and the stakeholders in health sector are doing everything humanly possible to give a bloody nose. Polio has crippled a lot of children, hence the determined effort to stamp it out of the human space. Among others, polio is contagious, cause by polio virus and spread through contact with stool of an infected person or droplets from the sneeze or cough.
Before an American medical researcher and virologist Jonas Salk Jonas Edward Salk (October 28, 1914 June 23, 1995) discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine, the disease has claimed the lives of many and left others with permanent paralysis across the globe.
In an effort to eradicate polio in Nigeria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, led by the Federal government with support from World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also supported the exercise.
However, when the exercise was first introduced, there is resistance of non-compliance from some household as some attributed it to a ploy by western countries to control birth rate in Nigeria, but with awareness by media, traditional and religious leaders, parents now present themselves for vaccination. With the feat achieved in acceptance of the vaccines, millions of children are expected to be administered with polio vaccine in each round of Immunization exercise.
The introduction of IPV into routine immunization systems is among the major objectives of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). In May 2012, the World Health Assembly ask all countries using only the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to introduce at least one dose of IPV into routine immunization schedules by the end of 2015. OPV is extremely safe and has led the world to be polio-free. The global eradication of polio requires the termination of all OPV use, once polio has been eradicated. IPV will then be the only option for countries to maintain immunity levels. Due to commitment by Nigerian government towards polio eradication President Muhammadu Buhari was conferred with the prestigious polio champion award in recognition of his commitment and leadership in the polio eradication programme across Nigeria. The president of the Rotary International (RI), Barry Rassin, who was on a four-day official visit to Nigeria, presented the award to President Buhari at State House, Abuja, on Thursday, November 15, 2018.
The only way to protect a child against polio is to get polio vaccine that is why medical Doctors recommend a child get four doses of the polio vaccine, Inactive Poliovirus (IPV) for best protection. The child will need one dose at each of the following ages, two months, four months, six through 18 months, four through six years.
Wycliffe Sunday is a 300 level Mass Communication Student of University of Maiduguri.

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