It is wrong to say Nigeria is free of Polio when part of Nigeria was not accessible – health minister
Nigeria’s minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has described the insinuations that polio resurged in Nigeria under his watch as wrong. In a recent interview, he said the initial announcement of Nigeria as polio was wrong since some parts of the country are inaccessible.
“It is wrong to say Nigeria is free of Polio when part of Nigeria was not accessible. And when they say there is resurgence of polio in Nigeria, I say where? Inaccessible area. The day you pick Polio in Kano, in Sokoto, Ibadan then I will say there is resurgence. So when you say under my beat, Polio resurged, No, it’s wrong,” the minister told Premium Times.
He noted that a total of 4 cases of polio had been reported in Borno, adding that all the four came from areas that were under control of Boko Haram.
“When they say Nigeria was free of Polio, they should have said the free area or accessible area is free of Polio and it is still free of polio. We have not detected polio in Sokoto, Kano, Ibadan, Port-Harcourt, Abuja. We only picked 4 cases of Polio in Borno State, areas under Moguno IDP Camp, Murna Camp, and Gwoza. So that to me, scientifically, it is not resurgence. Resurgence is you have controlled it, it flared up,”Adewole said.
He revealed that there was no access to the area but the ministry’s officials were able to reach there as a result of the operations of Nigeria’s security officials and prompted by a directive issued by the president.
“Mr. President said ‘Go and look for more, you might still find children who are not vaccinated before’. And if children were not vaccinated, they could develop polio and that is what happened. We did (immunization in) Borno State, we did five states and we did 18 states four times and we used soldiers to even vaccinate,”the minister said.
“We worked with the Army, something that has never been done before and then we introduced IPV. The IPV is injection, you know oral polio will give about 4, 5 times because it is not as powerful as the IPV, but the IPV is in short supply all over the world, it is what we are introducing for routine immunisation. I directed that any IPV in Nigeria should be taken to Borno and any child that comes out, you are seeing, just give IPV because we may not see them again. Even if you give IPV once, you are sure you have given something.”