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US Congratulates Nigeria On Polio-Free Status, Calls For Routine Immunization

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(File Photo) The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for attaining a wild poliovirus-free status.

The US envoy noted that the feat was achieved after years of joint efforts to remove Nigeria from the list of wild polio-endemic countries.

“We are proud of our partnership with Nigeria and cherish the cooperation that ensures the country has the technical expertise and resources required for success,” the ambassador was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Friday. “No country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.”

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While reiterating the commitment of the US to continue its partnership with the Federal Government, Leonard called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to build on its successes in fighting polio, including strengthening routine immunization, and improving the health of children and their families.

She however warned that a resurgence of polio can still occur despite the certification by the World Health Organisation.

The diplomat said she is confident that Nigeria has the strategies in place to ensure the gains made in the polio eradication efforts are not lost and that the momentum achieved in achieving this certification continues.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE

PRESS RELEASE                         August 28, 2020

For Immediate Release                                                      PR-0XX/2020

U.S. Congratulates Nigeria on Wild Polio-free Status,

Calls for Vigilance and Improved Routine Immunization

Abuja – U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for attaining a wild poliovirus-free status after years of joint efforts to qualify Nigeria to be removed from the list of wild polio endemic countries.

“We are proud of our partnership with Nigeria and cherish the cooperation that ensures the country has the technical expertise and resources required for success,” the Ambassador said at an August 24 Town Hall meeting with Embassy staff and polio eradication stakeholders.  “No country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners.”

She added that the United States stands ready to continue its partnership with Nigeria as it consolidates and builds upon its successes in fighting polio, including strengthening routine immunization, and improving the health of children and their families.

The certification comes after four years without any reported cases of polio in Nigeria and following an in-depth review and acceptance of the country’s certification documentation.

Ambassador Leonard said she is confident that Nigeria has strategies in place to ensure the gains made in the polio eradication efforts are not lost and that the momentum achieved in achieving this certification continues. Despite the certification, a resurgence of polio can still occur.

It is therefore critical that the country’s disease surveillance system is sensitive enough to quickly detect and respond to diseases.

Ambassador Leonard recognized the role of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) at the forefront of partnering with the people of Nigeria toward polio eradication efforts in the country.

Since 2012, the CDC and USAID have invested approximately $150 million and $70 million, respectively, toward Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts.  The agencies work in Nigeria at the state and local levels to strengthen surveillance, polio campaigns, polio outbreak response efforts, and routine immunization.

Implementing partners include:  the African Field Epidemiology Network, Core Group Partners Program, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, and Word Health Organization.


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