The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), through the FCT Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), said it targets about 1, 275, 417 children in the territory, between the age of zero to 59 months, for vaccination against white polio virus.
Acting executive secretary of the board, Dr Yakubu Mohammed disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja at the weekend, ahead of a 5-day Integrated National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDS), Optimised Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) and Active Case Search (ACS) in the FCT.
Mohammed said a total of 1,720,462 women, including, 1,401, 858 women of child-bearing age (15 to 45 years) and 318, 604 pregnant women would be vaccinated during the exercise.
The acting executive secretary revealed that 33 states in the country and the FCT are conducting the week long national immunization plus exercise, which starts on Saturday November 18, 2023, adding that in addition to conducting the national immunization plus exercise, the FCT would also be conducting Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW), as well as the conduct of Active Case Search (ACS).
Recall that Nigeria was satisfied free from white polio virus in August 2020, Mohammed said, however, that in order to keep up with the zero transmission and maintain that zero tempo of free white polio virus status, the board needs to reach to it’s target population of children between the age of zero to 59 months with this potent oral vaccines.
He stated that this is even more necessary because there are detected cases of variant type 2 of the virus which could undergo mutation and if care is not taken it could transform and become a white polio virus and herald into an outbreak, adding that the exercise is even more imperative, because it has been noted that some other African countries, such as Mozambique and Malawi, which were hitherto satisfied free from white polio virus, are now coming back with an outbreak of the virus.
The acting executive secretary said that this was what informed the decision by the national programme, being coordinated by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), under the supervision of the federal ministry of health, to conduct this round of polio immunization exercise to ensure that we do not reverse the gains achieved in the eradication of the white polio virus in the country.
He also blamed poor environmental sanitation and open defecation for the recurring white polo virus cases in the country, just as he advised residents to maintain clean environment and avoid open defecation to prevent poliomyelitis, since the mode of transmission of polio is faecal -oral.
The acting executive secretary continued, “As a matter of fact, the MNCH Week dates back to 2010. That was when the National Council on Health reached a resolution to conduct this exercise twice a year, called an annual intervention, during which a package of high impact health intervention are put together to be delivered to a target group of children less than 59 months and in addition to that also to pregnant women .
Now, one of the drivers of the MNCH Week is vitamin A Supplementation. Vitamin A Supplementation is one of the high impact cause-effective intervention that protects our children from blindness.
In addition to that, there are other packages that constitutes this intervention, such as deworming our target children, providing oral rehydration for the control of diarrhea and providing them some essential medicines for some local endemic illnesses.
We will also make available insecticide treated mosquito nets and a host of other interventions, including iron folic tablets for pregnant women, all during this week long exercise. There are also other interventions such as HIV testing and counselling, family planning services and others. So, all these are put together to deliver to our target beneficiaries.
The delivery routes will be through our health facilities in the FCT. We have over 257 Primary Health Care facilities in the FCT. We have 14 Secondary Health Care facilities under the FCTA, and of course, we have additional 15 Secondary Health Care facilities, owned by other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, of course, the three tertiary health care facilities, all on the FCT.
Also, the outreach team will be moving to the communities, such as schools, markets, village square, and various centres, wherever we can find camps. And of course, sensitisation has been going on, so that these target population will meet our team of trained health care facilitators for services.”