Polio eradication: top priority for African leaders

NPI/UNICEF/WHO, Abuja, 2 February 2005 
Polio eradication and health issues in Africa were a high priority for African Heads of State at the Fourth Ordinary Session of the African Union which held in Abuja from 30 to 31 January 2005. His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of the African Union, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo led other African leaders in the discussions on polio. Nigeria has the highest number of polio cases in the world It recorded a total of 783 wild polio viruses in 2004.Leaders of polio-affected countries at the meeting acknowledged that their commitment and oversight were critical to eradicating polio from Africa by end-2005. High level political commitment is the only way to ensure all children are vaccinated during polio immunization campaigns.Recognizing the difficulties posed by conflicts, President Obasanjo called for ceasefire during polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) to ensure that all children are reached during such periods. With the recent spread of polio from Nigeria to other parts of Africa, President Obasanjo personally apologised to countries that were adversely affected by the polio exportation. He assured the world that the problems had been resolved and that Nigeria would work towards the goal of stopping polio transmission by the end of 2005.To ensure that this is achieved, the country has planned five rounds of NIDs and one sub-national campaign for the year. These would take place from 26th February – 1st March; 9th – 12th April; 14th – 17th May (with Vitamin A); 6th – 9th August (SNIDs); 17th – 20th September (with Vitamin A) and 12th – 15th November.
For more information, please contact Mr. Austine Oghide, NPO/HIP, WHO, 443, Herbert Macaulay Road, Yaba Lagos. Tel: (234) 1 5453661; 2903276-7; 7737092-3, 08034022390. Fax: (234) 1 5452179 E-mail: oghidea@who-nigeria.org