The 24th Africa Union Summit will be held in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, from 30 to 31 January 2015 with all African Heads of Government expected to be in attendance.
One of the main themes of the Summit, “The Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” focuses on preparing Africa for its future, building upon the progress now underway and effectively learning lessons from the past. A polio-free Africa is one of the best legacies that the people of Africa, its leaders, and the African Union can pass on to the next generation.
In Nigeria, tremendous progress was achieved at the end of December 2014 with 87% reduction of the Wild Polio Virus Type 1 (WPV1) burden and 78% reduction in geographic spread of the virus. Wild Polio Virus Type 3 (WPV3) has not been reported in Nigeria for 23 months. The genetic clusters circulating in Nigeria have also declined from 8 in 2013 to 1 in 2014 representing an 88% reduction. This feat has been achieved as a result of over two year’s meticulous improvement in the programme with award winning innovations.
Since the World Health Assembly at its sixty-fifth session of May 2012 declared Polio eradication as a public health emergency of global significance, Nigeria continues to respond with an equal degree of urgency to stop the transmission by the end of 2014 by churning out streams of innovations and approaches to reach persistently missed children.
It may be recalled that Nigeria, one of the countries that has never interrupted the transmission of indigenous Polio Virus experienced a huge resurgence of polio cases in 2004 after the cessation of polio campaigns in some states in the Northern part of the country due to religious misconceptions that the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) could contain anti-fertility drugs and Human Immune-deficiency Virus (HIV).
Following a 10-year battle with resurgence of the paralysing disease, only 6 confirmed WPV1 in 2 states were recorded in 2014 compared to 50 cases in 9 states for the same period in 2013, with the date of onset of the latest WPV case occurring on 24th July, 2014, which means that the country has not recorded any new case in 6 months.
Therefore, the 24th African Union Summit provides a unique and historic opportunity for the leaders of Africa, under the Chairmanship of Mauritania, to express their strong commitment to deliver a polio-free continent for children of all future generations and encourage the last remaining countries and their leaders to redouble their efforts in the final stages of this long battle to consign Polio to the history books.
Ayotunde Adesugba (Mrs.)
Director Press and Public Relations