Fashola Leads Campaign Against Polio
…Says though Lagos is free of virus, Polio must be kicked out of Nigeria
Aug 13, 2011 - Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Saturday joined his 36 States counterparts under the aegis of the Governors' Forum of Nigeria in sustaining the campaign against spread of Polio nationwide, stressing that Lagos State cannot afford to stop the campaign against the deadly disease now.
Governor Fashola who spoke at the Quarterly Sensitization Programme on Eradication of Polio which was held at the Oshodi Sports Centre by Oshodi Local Government Secretariat added that new babies are daily being born and therefore the immunization must continue to ensure that all children between the ages of 0 to five gets the immunization.
"What is more profound is that it is taking place simultaneously in all the 36 states which is a follow up to the resolve of the Governor's Forum to lead from the front the campaign to eradicate Polio from Nigeria".
"So it is not just going to be Lagos State and a few other States that are Polio free but we intend to ensure that the whole country is Polio free, because now only Nigeria and three other countries namely Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are still remaining in the world that have Polio. When you look at it those other three countries are so contiguous. Pakistan was created out of India and very close to Afghanistan and I wonder what we are doing in their midst", the Governor stated.
The Lagos State Governor who also spoke to newsmen after the programme said the quarterly sensitization will be followed by monthly analysis of immunization reports and feedbacks from the various States Commissioners for Health, stressing that the Polio eradication campaign is one victory which the Governors' Forum is going to deliver and succeed with.
Governor Fashola asserted that there is no reported case of Polio in Lagos anymore simply because the administration has been very steadfast in the immunization campaign which has ensured that no child is left out.
He urged all parents to get the five immunization types for their children from age 0 to five, saying the vaccines are always available freely for every child. The Governor said the administration is non discriminatory in its policies to both the able and disable in the state, citing the example that only on Friday he gave directives for the engagement of a physically challenged but qualified person in the public service.
He also gave an assurance that Government will continue to embark on advocacy programmes to sensitise the members of the public to realize the dangers that are inherent in leaving a single baby out of the immunization drive because Polio is caused by a virus which can easily spread.
Earlier while giving an overview of the Polio disease, the Chairman of the State Primary Health Board, Dr (Mrs ) Yinka Abosede said Polio is a virus which may be contacted if an infected person passes it out through excreta.
She explained that currently there is no reported case of Polio in Lagos State, adding the last time it was reported in Lagos State was in 2009 when four cases were detected while for an area like Oshodi /Isolo Local Government the last time any case of Polio was last detected was in 2003.
In his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris said it is very cheering that Lagos State has remained a Polio free State since April 2009, adding that this feat has been achieved largely due to the proactive measures adopted by the State Government.
He said the present administration in Lagos State has embarked upon several measures which include capacity building of health workers and ensuring that routine immunization exercises are also taken to previously untouched areas to reduce the risks.
Dr Idris added that in addition to social mobilization, there is now greater need to redouble efforts by everyone to ensure that no child of immunization age is missed out in the Polio drive, stressing that the risk is lower if everyone is immunized.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Oshodi- Isolo Local Government, Mr Hafiz Ipesa- Balogun gave a commitment that the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) on which he represents Lagos State Local Governments has plans to complement the efforts of the Governors Forum in the fight against Poliomyelitis.
The ceremony which also featured an interactive session with members of the public on how to curb the spread of the disease was co-ordinated by the Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr Yewande Adeshina with many of the contributors like a community leader in Oshodi, Pa J.O. Olaleye, Rotarian Edward Olayinka and Mrs Risi Akitoye-Williams charging the government to do more to educate the people on the dangers inherent in not immunizing their children when due.
Governor Fashola later administered the Polio vaccines on some of the children who were present at the event.
Prominent among those who graced the ceremony were the Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, members of the State Executive Council, House of Representatives member from Oshodi Isolo 1 Constituency, Hon Maruf Akinderu –Fatai, traditional rulers, representatives on international health organisations and dignitaries from all walks of life.
Meanwhile, the Governor in a State wide broadcast urged all health workers, Local Government Chairmen and officers, traditional and religious leaders, market men and women, various unions to lend their support to the final onslaught against Polio.
He gave a commitment that he will be monitoring the progress of immunization and getting monthly reports from the Honourable Commissioner for Health while leading quarterly campaigns to sustain the sensitization until victory is attained and Polio eradicated from Nigeria.
"Please join me and other stakeholders to fight this battle. I am sure, with your support the victory we seek will be delivered and the next generation of Nigerian children will thank us for a brighter rewarding future that is polio free and not encumbered with disabilities", the Governor added.