by Ikechukwu Obi
It’s been 15 months since the last polio case was reported in Nigeria leading to this World Health Organization recognition.
In the past, Nigeria was unfortunately listed alongside countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan in incidences of polio but thanks to the strenuous efforts of past governments, Nigeria has broken ranks with negativity.
For me, this recognition should be dedicated to 3 sets of recipients.
1) Former President Goodluck Jonathan whose administration took this fight seriously. In 2012 there were 122 cases and due to concerted efforts by Jonathan’s government, it has dropped to ZERO cases in the last 15months. This President set up a Presidential TaskForce on polio, energized the partnership between the FG, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors to fight this scourge to a standstill. The FG set up Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) in Northern states and Abuja to coordinate this fight and the result is what we’re seeing today.
Credit must be given to whom its due and Goodluck Jonathan’s government performed fantastically well to eradicate this polio scourge which was literally crippling the Northern states.
2) The 9 health workers who were murdered in the course of polio immunization in Kano in 2013. These workers who were gunned down in the course of helping others, represent all other health workers who took considerable risk in penetrating very remote areas in the North for mapping and periodic immunization. May their heroic souls rest in peace.
3) Every enlightened Northerner who took it upon him/herself to fight and preach against a certain pseudo-religious and cultural belief that polio immunization was evil and dangerous. Without their educative efforts, maybe a lot of their kinsfolk would have remained in the darkened state of mind that encourages the spread of polio.
To all Nigerians, I say, congratulations! Polio has been defeated! Let’s move on to kick other serious diseases out of our country.
Ikechukwu Obi is a social affairs commentator who lives and works in Abuja. Connect with him on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.