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Anambra committed to sustaining polio free state, eradicating COVID-19 – Okpala

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IN LINE with keeping with its health policy of ensuring a COVID-19 free Anambra State and children wellbeing in the state, Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ASPHDA), in collaboration with partner agencies briefed the press on Second Dose of Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccination and Outbreak Response Polio in Anambra State.

  Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, in his speech at the event held at the Health Commissioner’s Office, Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka, while appreciating Gov. Willie Obiano for his great support when the state had outbreak of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (CVDPV) in 2019, with no record of any outbreak of polio in the state since then said polio remained a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

  The commissioner stressed that the vaccines are free and safe, and for caregivers to avail themselves of the opportunity and ensure that their children receive novel Oral Polio Vaccine, maintained that the state will always join the nationwide exercise to ensure sustenance of the interruption of CVDPV in Nigeria.

  ”The only prevention of polio is by vaccination therefore, Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with partners agencies is organising the Outbreak Response 1(OBR1) October, 2021. Anambra State Government is fully committed to this programme and will make sure that no child is missed in the state.”

  The Anambra State Chief Health Officer highlighted that  the cause of cVDPV is low immunisation rate, urging that the best way to prevent them and stop them when there is an outbreak is to vaccinate children, ”the Polio vaccine protects children whether the kind of polio is Wild Poliovirus or Vaccine derived Poliovirus. Outbreak (whether WPV or CVDPV) are usually rapidly stopped with 2-3 rounds of high-quality supplementary immunisation activities (Immunisation Campaigns), he said.

  Dr Okpala stated that health workers will be at designated health facilities offering routine immunisation and at mobile posts in a catchment area to give Novel Oral Polio Vaccine (Nopv (irrespective of previous status) as well as other routine vaccines according to schedules. He urged parents and guardians of a child or any child in any community under 15 years of age who suddenly develop weakness of one or two legs or arms, report immediately to the nearest health centre or immunisation team.

  Earlier in her opening remarks, Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ASPHDA, Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, noting that the two campaigns that commenced on Wednesday, stated that the COVID-19 vaccination which started with the first phase in March 2021, has successfully been completed and now in the second phase.

  “We are into the second dose. And it may interest you to note that over 80,000 ndi Anambra have been vaccinated against COVID-19. And we are using the Modena and AstraZeneca vaccines. Now for the Out Break Response, you will recall that polio was eradicated in August 2019. But because of the risk of the circulating vaccine derived in neighbouring states, we want to fortify our children and Anambra State. So we are targeting children below the age of 5, and 0-59 months to make sure every child is vaccinated against polio, so in a nutshell these are the two campaigns we are starting today,” she stated. 

  World Health Organisation (WHO) State Coordinator, Dr Chukwumuanya Igboekwu, commended the state through the Ministry for Health, and the Anambra Primacy Healthcare Development Agency, for planning, implementation of the second dose of the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination and simultaneously flagging off the First Out Break Response Against the Circulating Vaccine-derived Poliovirus (VDPV) in the state.  

  “Nigeria has been certified wild polio free. But we still need to intensify actions because the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) type 2 till poses threat of paralysis to our children. We are doing the first OBR called OBR1. And after about one month we will embark on OBR 2 and the essence is that children that are eligible, less than 59 months will have the opportunity to receive at least two doses and we are using the novel OPV type 2.

  We have also put in place mechanisms and actions to be able to monitor the use of this vaccine. We have trained all the health workers that will be supporting and implementing this campaign starting from state level to the grassroots,” he said.

  The vaccination team will be moving from house-to-house, churches, mosques, schools, markets, motor parks, village square and wherever children are found to administer OPV.

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