The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has identified religious beliefs and ignorance as factors responsible for Nigeria's status as Africa's only country with polio burden.
This was disclosed during an engagement with media practitioners in Yola, organised by UNICEF and the Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA).
In a presentation on a paradigm shift in media engagement on oral polio vaccines administration, Dr. Amos Ujulu of PHCDA noted that ignorance, misconception and beliefs are among the factors militateng against polio eradication in Nigeria.
Explaining further, Ujulu said "Nigeria is the only country where polio is still raging on the continent of Africa", adding that "only three out of 10 children have been immunised in Adamawa State".
He gave the background of the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS), stating that low coverage was recorded due to ignorance. "In Adamawa State, the coverage was 59 percent, but we are targeting additional 29 percent before the end of the year,” he said.
On the bottlenecks and other challenges encountered by field officers, Ujulu said parents were sceptical of the gesture, as they queried why government was more interested in giving free oral polio vaccines rather than in other critical social services.
Non-payment of salaries to health workers in Adamawa State was said to have contributed to low coverage, as health workers had become negatively disposed to carrying out Immunization exercise.
However, a UNICEF survey revealed that only 10% of the children in the state are properly vaccinated. The report stated that this followed a declaration of the state of emergency on June 17, 2017.
The UNICEF report stated further that figures for immunization coverage in Adamawa State was false, adding that seven local government areas in the state have been identified as high risk for polio.
Also 18 states, all of which are from the north save Bayelsa, have not been vaccinated,
Other child mortality diseases were identified to include cholera and malaria, among others.
Malaria was identified as being responsible for 450,000 deaths in 15 countries, including Nigeria. It was further identified that 173,000 of the mortalities are shared between Nigeria, DR Congo and one other African country.
Dr. Attahiru Bello dropped a cheery news about ‘Rectal Artesunate’, a newly developed malaria treatment, saying it is potent in the treatment of severe malaria. However, he warned that rectal artesunate was developed only to manage severe cases.