Lagos State First Lady, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu on Friday flagged off the 2020 Polio Vaccination Exercise for children in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of the State, vowing that the State Government would continue to implement various initiatives to safeguard the health of residents.
The affected councils are Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Mushin, Somolu and Surulere.
The African Regional Commission had formally declared Nigeria Polio free on 25th August 2020, but the vaccination exercise was initiated as a result of environmental circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) detected at Makoko, Asegere Market in Lagos Mainland in September.
Through the exercise, children between 0 – 5 years would be vaccinated with two drops of oral polio vaccine, regardless of their previous immunization status, to prevent poliomyelitis that may result in paralysis of the limbs or death.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony held at the Secretariat Complex of Somolu Local Government, Sanwo-Olu said though Nigeria had been certified polio-free, that conscious efforts must be put in place to ward off the threat of the virus, which according to her, necessitated the vaccination exercise.
“This Polio free status can only be maintained by strengthening our routine immunization services and regular surveillance activity in our communities for both wild and vaccine derived polio viruses and acute flaccid paralysis.
“We should also bear in mind that few other countries which are yet to be certified free of polio virus will still constitute a threat to the whole world. Therefore, the need for us as a nation to continue with our vaccination strategy in order to improve the health of our children and guarantee their survival to economically viable adults cannot be over emphasized,” she said.
The First Lady commended health workers for their service to humanity despite the challenges so far witnessed this year, especially with regards to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
While reiterating the commitment of the present administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ramp up healthcare, the First Lady urged residents, especially parents and guardians to take advantage of the vaccination exercise to protect their children and wards against the virus.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary of Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Olugbemiga Aina said it was essential for people to ensure that eligible children within communities were adequately vaccinated, adding: “We must ensure that our communities are rid of the virus because as long as wild poliovirus is still in circulation in some countries, the whole world remains at risk.”
He said during the exercise, vaccination teams would be required to visit residential homes, schools, churches, mosques, gated estates and all public places where eligible children will be vaccinated.
Speaking separately at the event, representatives of the Federal Government, World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) commended the State Government for taking the lead in healthcare initiatives, especially to protect children.
Director, Southwest Zone of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Adefunke Adesope, who spoke on behalf of the Federal Government, said the Lagos State Government deserved to be commended for its continuous commitment and support to immunization activities, saying the FG was delighted with the actions and investigations of the State Government since the detection of environmental circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in Makoko.
On his part, WHO State Coordinator, Dr San Nyeni said it was on record that Governor Sanwo-Olu did exceptionally well to improve the health indices of the State despite the challenges faced in the year.
Also, State Coordinator, UNICEF, Dr Charles Nwosisi said: “There is a saying we generally have that if Nigeria is to get it right, then Lagos would have to lead the way and get it right and indeed Lagos has been getting it right and leading the way.”
First round of the vaccination holds from November 14 to 17, while the second round will take place between December 12 and 15, 2020.