Teaming up to tackle polio in Lagos
With a recent outbreak of Vaccine-Derived Polio in Lagos and other states in Nigeria caused by poor vaccination coverage, teams are working to ensure that no child is left behind.
- 17 November 2021
- 4 min read
“The key message is zero tolerance on polio! From the supervisors and the vaccinators to the mobilisers, we have one goal: no child is left behind when it comes to polio vaccination in Lagos state,” says Abiodun Oroja, the chairman of the Social Mobilisation Committee at Alimosho Local Government Area (LGA).
“So far all children have taken their first and second dose of the polio vaccine. We ensure that there is no exception. We have been certified a nation free of polio, and we want it to stay that way.”
“It is all about team work,” adds Oroja. “We work hand in hand, moving from house to house to ensure that we don’t leave any child from zero to five years behind. Each LGA in Lagos state has its mobilisation chairman, who goes round with his team to supervise the polio vaccination exercise.”
Nigeria was certified free of wild polio virus in August 2020 by the World Health Organisation. But, barely a year later, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the outbreak of Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in Lagos and other states in Nigeria.
Though the country embarked on four outbreak responses using the Oral Polio Vaccine, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib says sub-optimal performances were recorded in the affected states due to a high number of missed children.
While this recent outbreak does not affect Nigeria’s wild polio-free status, the Executive Director says there is a need for the country to jealously guard its polio-free status and stop the cVDPV2 transmission in communities. He advises state governments and traditional leaders to continue to mobilise people for the vaccination campaigns and other subsequent rounds of polio vaccination.
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“We took the advice to heart. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Lagos State Ministry of Health and Lagos State Primary Health Care Board with support from partners swiftly embarked on polio vaccination campaigns,” Oroja says.
According to the State Primary Health Care Board, the campaign was done in two rounds, six weeks apart, with the first round between 18 and 21 September and the second round between 30 October and 2 November.
“The objective is to ensure all children from zero to five years receive two drops of the oral polio vaccine (nOPV) irrespective of their previous immunisation status. The vaccination teams visited all households, hospitals, schools, churches, mosques, recreational grounds, estates, markets, shopping plazas and any place where children can be found,” the board says.
As the chairman of the social mobilisation committee at Alimosho, Oroja says that she lives among the people and she knows every nook and corner of Alimosho.
“I would fuel my car and together with my team, we would go from house to house, to supervise the polio vaccination exercise. I have gone through the six Local Council Development Areas in Alimosho. So far all children zero to five years have taken their first and second dose of the polio vaccine. We ensure that there is no exception. We have been certified a nation free of polio, and we want it to stay that way,” she adds.
Before the Polio Vaccination Campaign was initiated in Lagos, Awofeso Rasheed, Chairman, Social Mobilisation Committee at Kosofe LGA, Lagos State, paid visits to spiritual leaders, both Islam and Christian, to educate them on the importance of vaccines to children.
“We also pleaded with them to encourage their congregants to get their children zero to five years old vaccinated against polio, which is free and safe,” Rasheed says. “We gave them the dates for the polio vaccination exercise in Lagos. As the Lagos State Secretary of Child Protection Network, my team work side by side with the supervisors and the vaccinators, encouraging parents/guardians to release their children for vaccination.”
“We want to ensure that no child is left behind. Recall that the reason for the recent outbreak of vaccine-derived polio was because unvaccinated children still mingle with the vaccinated ones at various social environments like school, churches etc. We do not want that to happen again.”