Nigeria will become a polio free country sooner than later, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has assured. He gave the assurance while declaring open the meeting of the African Regional Commission for Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) which held in Abuja in June.

“We would not be quick to state that we have successfully truncated transmission until every part of our beloved country is accessible to the vaccination and surveillance teams. Nevertheless, we are confident that this will happen sooner than expected as our armed forces are doing extremely well to overwhelm the Boko Haram insurgency”, he said.

Also, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, assured that “we will continue to make our surveillance increasingly sensitive” and appealed to donors to continue to support the Agency to achieve global goal of a polio free Nigeria.

The ARCC chairperson, Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, expressed appreciation for the giant strides made in the Nigerian PEI programme and showered encomiums on the Minister of Health, the NPHCDA Executive Director and the National Polio Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for the innovations deployed to halt transmission of the Wild Polio Virus in the country.

“The ARCC has proposed to hold this important annual meeting in Nigeria to learn about progress being made in the country on the polio eradication initiative and also meet with the highest authorities to extend our gratitude for their tireless efforts and advocate for more political commitment at the highest level. There is need for very highly sensitive surveillance, high quality of polio campaigns and strengthened routine immunisation with no complacency”, Leke said.

She added that remarkable progress has been made towards interruption of the transmission of Wild Poliovirus in the African region and cautioned that “despite the marked progress, we have to remain more vigilant to avoid missing any transmission or importation of poliovirus especially in security compromised area”.

The ARCC chairperson then noted that several initiatives including the use of technological innovations are being implemented in Nigeria to ensure access to inaccessible and hard to reach areas as well as mobile population to ensure high quality surveillance and vaccination activities.

During the 5-day meeting, the ARCC was updated on the status of implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Yaounde ARCC meeting; the status of polio eradication initiative globally and in the African region; global and regional poliovirus laboratory containment; the Lake Chad Basin, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Horn of Africa polio outbreaks; and the use of innovation and technology to strengthen AFP surveillance in the African Region.

While the ARCC reviewed the complete country documentation of Madagascar and progress and update reports from countries with surveillance and immunization challenges: Angola, Guinee-Bissau, Equatorial Guinee and Mauritania; countries with security challenges:  South Sudan and Central Africa Republic; countries with cVDPV2 outbreaks: Kenya and Nigeria and Country that has not interrupted WPV1: Nigeria as well as reviewing and updating its plan of action.

At the end of the meeting, the ARCC made general and country recommendations to fast-track achievement of polio eradication in the African Region