The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said the routine immunization across the country has recorded a 10% increase from 2016 till date. The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib who disclosed this in Abuja at the 36th meeting of the Expert Review Committee on Polio and Routine Immunization in Nigeria, said Nigeria was at the point of eradicating polio.

“Recent studies conducted indicate that between 2016 and the present time, we have seen a 10% increase in routine immunization coverage. 10% might appear as if it is just marginal but in the routine immunization space, it is unprecedented. Never before have you seen this kind of huge jump anywhere in the world that within a period of two years we actually achieve 10 percent increase in routine Immunization.

“If this positive trajectory continues in the next 11 months and if we do have access to those obscured areas in the Northeast, it is very likely that the certification institutions would review the progress that Nigeria has made in the lack of polio virus transmission and very likely in the next few months Nigeria would be declared polio free,” he said.

He said getting caregivers to bring out their children for immunisation has remained a major challenge to the organisation. Dr. Shuaib said the agency has put some measures in place for hard to reach areas, including sending “well-trained health workers” to such areas. Oyewale Tomori, a professor of Virology, urged Nigeria not to be the last country on the list of polio burden countries.

He urged stakeholders to continue the routine immunisation so as to ensure Nigeria does not relapse into a major polio endemic country. The country representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Wondi Alemu, reassured Nigeria of the global body’s support in the fight to completely eradicate the virus. He said sustained population immunity through routine immunisation remained key to polio eradication in the country.

Mr Alemu also paid tribute to health workers operating in hard to reach areas and also those who had paid the supreme price. The fight against wild polio virus is still ongoing in three remaining endemic countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Nigeria has however made significant improvement as there has been no record of wild polio outbreak in the country in the last 25 months.