Awka – Anambra State Government on Wednesday flagged the First Outbreak Response (OBR1) Campaign for Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus type 2 (CVDPV2) in the state.
The exercise which was flagged off in Awka, will last till Saturday 9th October.
The campaign which will be carried out with the key antigen- Novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV), is for children between 0-59 months, irrespective of previous immunization status.
The campaign which is driven by the State Ministry of Health and the Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, ANSPHCDA, with support from the World Health Organisation and other Development partners, is targeted at interrupting the circulating vaccine derived Poliovirus and reduce the burden of other childhood killer diseases.
Performing the flag off, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala explained that Polio remains a Public Health Emergency of international concern, saying in the light of the increasing threat of cVDPV2 out breaks to vulnerable under immunized population, ( cVDPV) Type 2 has become the most prevalent with 959 cases occurring globally in 2020.
He said barely one year plus after Nigeria was certified Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free, the government has alerted on the outbreak of circulating vaccine derived Poliovirus Type 2 (cVDPV2) in 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to him, there arose the need for the country to jealously guard its WPV free status and stop the cVDPV2 transmission in communities.
“As the virus spreads from one unvaccinated child to another over a long period of time (often over the course of about 12-18 months), it can mutate and take on a form that can causes Paralysis just like the Wild Polio Virus. This mutated Poliovirus can be spread in communities, leading to cVDPVS,” he said.
Okpala who attributed the cause of cVDPV to low immunization rate, said the best way to prevent them and stop them when there is an outbreak is to vaccinate children.
“The Polio vaccine protects children whether the kind of polio is Wild Poliovirus or Vaccine derived Poliovirus. Outbreak (whether WPV or CVDPV) are usually rapidly stopped with 2-3 rounds of high-quality supplementary immunization activities (Immunization Campaigns). Outbreak response 1(OBR1) will take place from Wednesday 6th –Saturday 9th October,2021 in Anambra state of Nigeria. Novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV) and other Routine Immunization (RI) antigens will be administered against vaccine preventable diseases to interrupt the circulating vaccine derived Poliovirus and reduce the burden of other childhood killer diseases,” Okpala disclosed.
The Anambra Health Commissioner explained that the specific objective of the OBR is to ensure that all children under 5 years in the country receives two drops of nOPV in each OBR as well as get all children under 2 years, to receive the RI antigens as per RI schedule.
Disclosing that the campaign has the target population of 1,264,387 children of 0-59 months of age and 505,754 children of less than two years, Okpala announced that health workers will be at designated Health facilities offering Routine immunization and at mobile posts in a catchment area to give nOPV as well as other routine vaccines according to schedules.
The Executive Secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, noted that the new vaccine became important to fortify the state against all forms of polio, saying the campaign targets all children below the age of five.
“Recall that polio was eradicated in August 2019 but because of the risk of the kind of polio derived from the vaccines, this exercise has become imperative,” she said.
In a goodwill message, the WHO State Coordinator, Chukwumuanya Igboekwu on behalf of all UN partners, congratulated the government and the people of the state, especially the Ministry of Health and ANSPHCDA for planning and implementing the OBR campaign against the Circulating Derived Polio Virus.
According to him, the Federal Government with the support of development partners has planned sequence implementation of outbreak response against the polio.
“This one is the first OBR and after about one month, we will do OBR 2 and we are using a novel OPV. We have never used it in Anambra before. We have also put in place mechanisms to be able to monitor the use of this vaccine, having trained the health workers that will drive this campaign,” he said.
He assured that the development partners are committed to supporting the state achieve a successful implementation of the campaigns.