POLIO : Nigeria on the Right Track
The International Public Health Forum welcomes the recent whirlwind around polio in Nigeria is a welcome development that should create the necessary drive towards a final putsch to pull the final chapter to an embarrassing problem. The fact that this embarrassment is all-pervasive among all stakeholders is evident by the desire of The Governors' Forum to lead this drive. This is a strong move on its part, going by the statements of the chairman of the forum Dr. Bukola Saraki of Kwara state who is himself a medical doctor by professional pedigree. It really did not need Bill Gates to come to Nigeria to show a Mirror of Galadriel to make all stakeholders own up to and tackle the problem of polio. IPHF commends the philanthropic zeal of Bill Gates, his wife, and indefatigable friend, Warren Buffet through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Fifty million dollars is a welcome development to support the years of untiring effort and commitment by Rotary International, USAID, WHO, and numerous other partners who have strived to rein in the disease.
It is an encouraging development too that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) is currently partnering with USAID/ COMPASS Project through the efforts of Dr. Lola Mabogunje (USAID/COMPASS Polio) and Dr. Francis Ohanyido (NMA-USAID/COMPASS) to sensitize practitioners and its membership at all levels of healthcare delivery to ensure that immunization at birth becomes a norm in both public and private facilities with great emphasis at primary care facilities. In this vein, all the branch chairpersons of the association in all the states, especially those states with recent history of the wild polio virus (WPV) should be encouraged to be part and parcel of regional and state -level planning and implementation of activities of the polio program.
Also worthy of commendation is the recent refocusing of the Dr Prosper Igboeli -led NMA as it is also engaging the Federation of Muslim Women Societies in Nigeria (FOMWAN) at strategic levels to improve synergies in advocacy efforts through their combined network strengths and natural advocacy niches. This is surely a part of the new breeze in the polio eradication campaign in Nigeria that is critical so as to give a new lease of life to children and the society at large
The Nigerian government at all three tiers of governance should feel challenged and continue scaling up its work in collaboration with these partners and not at any point be seen to abdicate its responsibility to the people of Nigeria.
-The International Public Health Forum