As the preparations for the August outbreak response (OBR) to the detection of two wild polio viruses in Borno State intensify, the five implementing states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe, in collaboration WHO and other partners have commenced the implementation of strategic activities to ensure quality campaign and increased access to children in trapped and susceptible populations living in the region.

According to Dr Haruna Mshelia the Borno State Commissioner for Health,  “this round of campaign is too critical for us to treat it with levity. We must ensure the implementation of the highest quality of activities to increase community awareness and access to all eligible children not only in Borno state but in all implementing states in the zone if we are to break this vicious chain of poliovirus transmission”.

Dr Mshelia lamented that “while it unfortunate that Borno state detected two wild polio viruses after the Nigeria has been polio free for two years, we don’t feel defeated. The only option available to us now is to deal a deadly blow to the virus through the implementation of out-of-the-box strategies like the expanded engagement of the Civilian Joint Taskforce that we have just started”.

Strategic Partnerships to access children in insecure areas

The expanded engagement of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a youth vigilante group and traditional leaders form part of the key activities being implemented by Borno to ensure the highest immunization coverage is achieved in the state.

Dr Mahmud Saidu, the WHO State Coordinator (SC) in Borno posited that, “the significance of the partnership with the CJTF is to increase access to susceptible populations living in areas designated as inaccessible to our regular teams operating in Mafa, Konduga, Monguno, Gubio, Magumeri, Kukawa, Bama and many others”.

The role of the CJTF as explained by the Executive Director, Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ES-BSPHCDA), Dr Sule Meleh,  is to provide security cover for teams operating in security compromised areas and to serve as vaccinators in designated inaccessible areas that regular teams have had difficulty accessing.

Micro planning and capacity building

In all the implementing states, trainings for all cadres of vaccination teams have been completed. Equally, micro planning activities have been concluded. A total of 34,963 settlements are expected to be covered across the five (5) states with over 5.5 million children targeted for vaccination.

In Yobe State alone, 8,180 settlements are to be visited by vaccination teams with 973,385 eligible children targeted for vaccination. Commenting on the level of preparations in the state, the WHO State Coordinator (SC) Dr Jibrin Alkassum said maps of accessible and partially inaccessible settlements have been updated. He stated that “while there is no LGA that is totally inaccessible, there are five (5) LGAs, namely Damaturu, Geidam, Gujba, Gulani and Yunusari with 409 settlements with target population of 19,995 that are partially inaccessible”. He added that WHO is working with traditional leaders and security personnel to reach these settlements.

Cross-border planning activities

On preparation for cross border immunisation, Borno state has finalized, inter-state border meetings with Gombe and Yobe states while similar synchronization meetings have also been held with Niger Republic with Nguru and Geidam LGAs in Yobe state. Dr Mohammad Bello Kawuwa, Commissioner for Health in Yobe state revealed that international cross border meeting with Niger Republic has been done and the State Task Force on Immunisation chaired by the Deputy Governor has met to discuss on the modalities for the campaign.

For more information visit http://www.afro.who.int/