The 35th Expert Review Committee for Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization (ERC) has expressed optimism that the Nigerian programme is on course to achieving polio eradication with ‘impressive progress’ recorded. The ERC meets periodically to evaluate progress towards the attainment of a polio-free Nigeria. The monitoring body provides guidance to the government and partners.

The summary of the experts’ feedback was contained in a presentation by Dr Pascal Mkanda, Polio Eradication Programme Coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, after meeting with government officials, partners and other stakeholders in Abuja from 26-27 March, 2018 to review progress of the programme in Nigeria.
“With no wild polio virus reported for 18 months in accessible areas, there is a unique opportunity for Nigeria to get the job done within the lifetime of the current administration,” Dr Mkanda said.

Giving further highlights of the ERC’s findings, he noted that despite the insecurity in some parts of the Northeast, there was a one-third reduction in inaccessible population over a period of 6 months. This was possible through the implementation of several different strategies.

The ERC commended the unconventional efforts that the government has made towards increasing access to children trapped in areas with extant insecurity. However, there are communities still inaccessible and children unreached due to insurgency.

The position of ERC is that “The conflict situation in Borno State is still very fragile; nevertheless the programme has innovative ways for reaching communities that were previously inaccessible such as Reaching Inaccessible Settlements (RES), Reaching Inaccessible Children (RIC) and transit vaccination strategies. More than 95% of the settlements planned for RES have been reached in Borno vaccinating about 272,000 children while RIC has reached over 52,000 children”. The innovative approaches resulted in the reduction of the estimated number of trapped children from over 600,000 in 2016 to about 104,000 by end of 2017.

Consequently, the members of the ERC recommended that the Federal Government and Borno State further accelerate the RIC strategy (RIC)  by June-August (before the start of rainy season which is the high polio transmission season) vaccination and surveillance in consultation with the military.

For more information please visit WHO Africa website http://www.afro.who.int/