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Society | Health
Nigeria has hope of eradicating polio
afrol News, 16 October - Nigerian government is likely to wipe out Polio, after Imperial London College team found a newly introduced vaccine, which is more effective than previous ones, according to a recent research.
Study, which appears in New England Journal of Medicine shows that vaccine, could eradicate most common form of polio in Nigeria, type 1, if it reaches enough children.
Nigeria is one of only four countries in world where polio has yet to be eliminated, and 82% of global cases reported so far this year have been in populous west African country.
Polio is highly infectious and it primarily affects children under five years of age. A small minority of infected people develops permanent paralysis, which can be fatal.
Study indicates that monovalent oral poliovirus vaccine (mOPV1) has been used in Nigeria since February 2006 and number of reported cases of polio in country fell by 75% between 2006 and 2007.
It shows that just one dose of mOPV1 gives a child in Nigeria a 67% chance of being protected, compared with a 16% chance after receiving standard trivalent vaccine.
However, researchers warn that although monovalent vaccine is proving very effective, more children need to be immunised if polio virus is to be completely eliminated in Nigeria.
In north west region of country, where majority of new cases are found, 21% of children have reportedly never received a single dose of vaccine and a further 55% are said to have received less than recommended four doses.
Earlier this year, World Health Assembly reportedly expressed alarm over a dramatic increase in type 1 cases in Nigeria, because of poor immunisation in north of country.
Nigerian government has thus established a presidential taskforce to identify barriers to immunisation, and potential solutions.
Researcher Helen Jenkins, based at Imperial's MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, said, "Nigeria and India are responsible for vast majority of new global polio cases. In Nigeria, we now have an effective vaccine to use and we've seen start of improvements in vaccine uptake."
Dr Jenkins added, "these last pockets of unvaccinated children now need to be reached to achieve elimination in Nigeria and this in turn will have a dramatic impact on prospects of worldwide eradication."
In a statement, World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that study proved that new vaccine was a "highly effective tool", but operational problems stood in way of successfully eradicating polio.
"To overcome remaining operational challenges, full political oversight and engagement at all levels is necessary, as demonstrated by states such as Kebbi, where case numbers have declined following such engagement," WHO statement further said.
Researchers reportedly reached their conclusions after analysing vaccination histories of 21,815 children with acute flaccid paralysis, 14% of whom had polio, collected between January 2001 and December 2007.
By staff writer
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