By Imma Jannah
Abuja – Philanthropist and key player in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, Sir Emeka Offor, has advocated the provision of greater access for children in Nigeria’s troubled Northeast and other border communities with inaccessible terrain so as to receive immunisation against polio.
Offor, made the call while vaccinating babies against polio at the Area 2 Primary Health Centre, Abuja, during a joint Immunization Outreach organised by his foundation and Rotary International in Abuja.
Offor, who is also an international polio ambassador, noted that sustained co-operative efforts of relevant stakeholders were needed for Nigeria to attain polio-free status within the next 10 months.
According to him, “more access to the boarder communities and war affected communities of north east should be created so that every child will be reached and the relapse we experienced in 2016 will not repeat itself.
“I was told that if by 21st August 2019 no polio is recorded in Nigeria, we will be declared Polio-free.
“So I plead with every health worker, our government, parents and everybody to join hands in making sure that polio is totally eradicated in Nigeria before August next year.”
In a similar vein, Coordinator of End Polio Now Campaign (Zone 20, Africa), Mrs ijeoma Okoro, urged parents to avail themselves of the opportunities created by the ongoing nationwide immunization exercise to have their children inoculated against the wild polio virus.
“As we are marking World Polio Day, immunization of all children below the age of five is ongoing all over Africa and parents should make sure their kids are not left out,” she said.
Speaking also, Hon. Elvis Chukwu, the DG District 9125 of Rotary International Abuja said the immunization outreach was organised to create more encouragement and awareness among parents on the importance of vaccinating their children.
In 2016, Nigeria was on its way to becoming a polio free country when three new cases of Polio were discovered. If by August 21st 2019 no new case is reported, Nigeria will be declared polio free and subsequently removed from the list of three polio endemic countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Polio is an infectious disease most commonly affecting children under the age of 5 by destroying their nerve cells in the spinal cord, causing muscle wasting, paralysis and sometimes death.