By Precious Ahiakwo-Ovie
Rotary International District 9141 has come out to say that the recent Polio Outbreak in Bauchi State is NOT the same as WILD POLIO VIRUS that has been declared ELIMINATED from the African Region by W.H.O. in August 2020.
Rotary International District 9141 Governor Rotarian Eyone Andy Uwejeyan in a statement release to set the records straight on the recent Bauchi Polio Outbreak explained that, the type of Polio that broke out is vaccine-derived polio virus type 2, found in areas with very weak routine immunization coverage.
He said “ You may be aware of the level of attention that has been drawn to this Polio Breaking News since it became public on Monday, 10 January 2022. A number of Rotarians have also asked questions regarding the significance of the Bauchi Polio News given the recent (2020) declaration of Nigeria/Africa polio-free status by World Health Organization. “Are we to start all over again?”, appears to be the common refrain from many of our Rotarians. In addition to what is already known about this type of development (as occurred in parts of Delta and a few other States in 2021), clarifications have also been sought from the leadership of Nigeria National Polio Plus Committee (NNPPC) on that news release. It has therefore been reconfirmed that “mutant polio virus type 2” is the same thing as circulating vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 (cVDPV2). This is NOT the same as WILD POLIO VIRUS that has been declared ELIMINATED from the African Region by W.H.O. in August 2020, Rather, cVDPV2 is a mutated version of the virus which is found in areas with very weak routine immunization coverage. Specifically, the 38 cases mentioned actually represents the cumulative cVDPV2 figure recorded in that State in the 12 months of 2021”.
Rotarian Eyone Andy Uwejeyan affirmed that “the Bauchi State Government, NPHCDA, Rotary and other GPEI Partners have, as a matter of fact, have already mounted an OBRS (OutBreak Response) to that challenge, which has remained the most effective, immediate term strategy for capping such outbreaks”.
He assured that “as Rotarians, our task now is to redouble our efforts through strong advocacy to our governments towards sustaining momentum on routine immunization activities despite our polio-free status and the unfortunate challenge of Covid-19 pandemic”.
Meanwhile on her part, the Rotary International Assistant Regional Public Image Coordinator Zone 22 covering Districts 9141 and 9142, Past Assistant Governor Ibim Seminatari further explained that the Nigeria’s certification as a polio free nation is still intact. She said Rotarians will continue to work with relevant authorities to keep Polio at zero in the country.
“A vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus. This means it can be easily spread to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an infected person. What that means is that our certification as a polio free nation is still. It also means our work is not done because we must not just keep polio at zero but keep an eye on vaccine derived polio. While we do not want any case of polio at all, our zero status is as it affects the wild polio virus itself”, she said.