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Polio vaccines free, safe – Okpala

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By Emeka Chiaghanam

IN CONTINUATION of its effort to maintain a polio free-status state and step up strategies to eliminate health issues related to infant mortality, the Anambra State Ministry of Health, through the Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHDA) says it will improve on the success recorded.

  Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala disclosed this during a press briefing on National Immunisation Plus  Days with the theme, ‘Keep Polio at Zero Level”, held at his office at the Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka, on Tuesday.

  Dr Okpala said the overall goal was to interrupt the circulation and keep polio at zero, with specific objectives being to administer two drops of potent oral polio vaccine and to scale up delivery of the routine immunisation antigens, as well as other child survival interventions.

 The commissioner said Anambra State Government was fully committed to the programme and will make sure that no child is missed in the state, stating that the only way to protect children is to give them two drops of the oral polio vaccine during routine immunisation and supplementary polio immunisation days.

  “The suspension of immunisation programs due to COVID-19 pandemic had further created new immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunisation coverage and missing children during immunisation campaigns which had led to new and wider outbreaks and further increased transmission of the Circulating Mutant Poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.”

  Dr Okpala maintained that all vaccines are free and safe; urging mothers and caregivers to avail themselves of this opportunity and make sure that their children are vaccinated.

  In her opening remarks, the Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA), Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu appreciated the effort of the state government in the primary healthcare sector and said the National Immunisation  Plus Days are days set aside to immunise children 0-59 months, technically under five years against polio irrespective previous immunisation status.

  “Every child is given a chance to be immunised and the reason for this is to make sure that every child is reached and no child is missed,” she said.

  The ASPHCDA State Coordinator, Obioha Agbakwuru, while appreciating the state team in his goodwill message, commended all the stakeholders that contributed to the success of the polio programme in the state for their doggedness, resilience and dedication to duty.

  “I think it is a difficult task but we were able to achieve it because we have to grapple with a vaccine-derived poliovirus that is also circulating in the state.”

  “I think the ministry has taken the initiative in organising a training for town announcers coming up tomorrow and we would use the opportunity to talk to them to help us conduct effective community mobilisation..”

  “We at the ASPHCDA are ever dedicated and committed to providing guidance and pragmatic leadership and other relevant resources that will be needed to enable the state to sustain its polio-free status, as well as reduce infant mortality in the state,” he said.

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