The Kwara government says it will target about 1.5 million children between zero and five years of age, for polio vaccination across the 16 local government areas of the state.

Nusirat Elelu, the Kwara State executive secretary of the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, stated this on Friday in Ilorin during a news conference on the commencement of the second round of polio vaccination.

She stated that the second round of the poliomyelitis vaccination will commence on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Ms Elelu pointed out that the vaccination is free for all children, zero to five years of age, and that the state government has also ensured that the immunisation certificate (purple cards) will now be issued free for all children who have completed their routine vaccination.

According to her, there are over 500 health facilities providing routine immunization (RI) with a strong cold room chain system in the state.

She recalled that the unwavering support and financial commitment of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazak enabled the agency to reach over 1.5 million children with the life-saving polio vaccine during the first round that took place in March 2024.

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Ms Elelu described polio as a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under five years of age.

She explained that the virus is transmitted person-to-person and spreads mainly through the faecal-oral route or contaminated water or food.

“According to the World Health Organisation, more than 20 million people are able to walk today who would otherwise have been paralysed, due to these global preventive campaigns.

“Wild poliovirus cases have decreased by 99 per cent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries to six reported cases in 2021,” she said.

The executive secretary also added that wild poliovirus type 2 was eradicated in 1999, and wild poliovirus type 3 was eradicated in 2020.

She, however, stated that by 2023, wild polio type 1 was still endemic in two countries in the world: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ms Elelu stated that the African region was certified polio-free in 2020, following the acceptance of Nigeria’s documentation for polio certification, adding that it was the last country in Africa to become polio-free.

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She explained further that the agency, with the support of the state government, will ensure that hard-to-reach areas of the state are fully accessed for the vaccination.

The executive secretary also appealed to mothers and caregivers to disregard any fake misinformation about the vaccines, saying that they are safe and efficacious with no fear of overdose.