August 10, 2013 -- His coming in 2008 was a breath of fresh air to the polio eradication initiative in Nigeria, his going now, may actually be another breath of fresh air, depending on the angle of your view.The focus of this write up is on where Nigeria is going with polio eradication. Put bluntly, with Pate’s departure from the Ministry of Health, will polio depart forever from Nigeria?
The history of polio eradication in Nigeria is that of ups and downs; perhaps more downs than ups if you look at the management of the polio eradication agency, or more ups than downs, when you consider the number of polio cases we have reported over the years. Several factors have been responsible for our national failure to stop the transmission of polio, which has made us the nation exporting the virus to other countries, and one of the three countries in the world that has NEVER interrupted polio transmission. If we are not careful, we are heading for the gold medal of the last country to eradicate polio.
The National Programme on Immunization (NPI) began operating in 1997 or thereabouts as the stand alone programme to bring vaccines to our children and ensure universal coverage of our children with vaccines against tuberculosis, (BCG), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), polio, measles and sometimes yellow fever. Prior to the creation of the NPI under the guidance of the then first lady, it was the function of the ministries of health at the federal and state levels and departments of health at the LGA, (through the federal department of public health) to provide a reliable and sustainable routine immunization programme for the country. In the days of the Late Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, and up till 1992, we made some commendable progress in this direction; with more than 80% vaccination coverage of our children with the available vaccines.
Read the rest of the opinion piece here.