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Nigeria fights polio to a stand still

The transmission of wild polio virus has been restricted to specific local government areas—no longer state wide, according to the Emergency Operations Centre for polio…

The transmission of wild polio virus has been restricted to specific local government areas—no longer state wide, according to the Emergency Operations Centre for polio in Nigeria.

“States are not transmitting [the virus] anymore. It’s now local government specific,” said Dr Andrew Etsano, coordinator of the EOC in Abuja, at a press briefing by the Nigeria National Polio Plus Committee ahead of the global Polio Day set for October 24.

Infection has been restricted to only five council areas this year, compared with 27 last year, said the EOC, mostly in the twin states of Borno and Kano.

While transmission of the virus in Borno is localised, transmission in Kano has been more diverse.

But experts hope clamping down on transmission in the last few months of 2014 could halt transmission this year.

At least two mop-up rounds of vaccination are planned to reach thousands of children of ages under five who were not reached in previous rounds due to violence in Borno and Kano states.

Accessibility is still a major challenge in Borno, according to the EOC, which said some 271,000 children in 12,175 settlements could not be vaccinated because vaccinators could not reach them in August.

The figure is a fall from the 395,000 children who couldn’t be reached in June, down from 1.685 million in March last year in Borno alone.

The country has not seen any confirmed case of wild poliovirus 3 since November 2012 and cases of wild poliovirus 1 have fallen 87%, according to data from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

Rotary International, one of the Polio Day hosts—with over $1.2 billion and millions of volunteer hours in 122 countries—has called for protection of more than two billion children from the disease.

“For as little as sixty cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. After an international investment of more than US 89 billion, and the successful engagement of over 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, polio could be the first human disease of the first century to be eradicated,” said Seyi Olufadeju, chairman of the Rotary Day Celebration Committee. “We can finish this job. We can end polio now.”

Abubakar Sheli, an executive of the Polio Survivors Association, called on communities and parents to “accept polio vaccination in order to prevent your children from becoming our member.”

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