U.S. Congratulates Nigeria on Wild Polio-free Status, calls for vigilance, improved routine lmmunization

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By Joy Odor

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Mary Beth Leonard had congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for attaining a wild poliovirus-free status after years of joint efforts to qualify Nigeria to be removed from the list of wild polio endemic countries.

She said the United States stands ready to continue its partnership with Nigeria as it consolidates and builds upon its successes in fighting polio, including strengthening routine immunization, and improving the health of children and their families.

The Ambassador state this at an August Town Hall with Embassy staff and polio eradication stakeholders in Abuja.

“We are proud of our partnership with Nigeria and cherish the cooperation that ensures the country has the technical expertise and resources required for success,”

“No country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.

“The certification comes after four years without any reported cases of polio in Nigeria and following an in-depth review and acceptance of the country’s certification documentation” she said.

Ambassador Leonard said she is confident that Nigeria has strategies in place to ensure the gains made in the polio eradication efforts are not lost and that the momentum achieved in achieving this certification continues.

According to her, despite the certification, a resurgence of polio can still occur, saying it is therefore critical that the country’s disease surveillance system is sensitive enough to quickly detect and respond to diseases.

Ambassador Leonard recognized the role of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) at the forefront of partnering with the people of Nigeria toward polio eradication efforts in the country.

Since 2012, the CDC and USAID have invested approximately $150 million and $70 million, respectively, toward Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts. The agencies work in Nigeria at the state and local levels to strengthen surveillance, polio campaigns, polio outbreak response efforts, and routine immunization.

Implementing partners include: the African Field Epidemiology Network, Core Group Partners Program, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, and Word Health Organization.

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