The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, on Thursday, announced that Nigeria had officially reported 395 cases of the Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 across 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The agency added that the CMPV2 outbreaks were caused by immunity gaps in children.

In August 2020, Nigeria was certified wild poliovirus free by the World Health Organisation and its allies as the country reported its last case of the disease in 2016.

The NPHCDA, in a statement by its Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib, explained that the suspension of immunisation programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic had further created new immunity gaps, which had led to new outbreaks.

The statement read in part, “We currently have 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 across 27 states and the FCT.

“Nigeria and the African region were certified wild poliovirus free in 2020, following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, which spanned three years of no detection of the WPV. Till date, there has been no case of the WPV anywhere in the country.

“CMPV2 outbreaks are caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunisation coverage, and missing children during immunisation campaigns. The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunisation because of the COVID-19 pandemic created further immunity gaps, which led to new and wider outbreaks, and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.

“The viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. These have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal. Malnutrition occasioned by increasing poverty is also a predisposing factor in exposed children. These non-wild polio viruses, which originated because of normal changes in the reproduction of viruses in the environment, are not as virulent as the WPV and are also being reported in many other countries.

The agency added, “We are working with our donors and development partners; Nigeria has already acquired new tools and resources to ensure that the outbreaks are contained through very robust outbreak responses using the novel Oral Polio Vaccine, which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of the CMPV2. All the 36 states and the FCT have completed at least one nOPV2 outbreak response.

“Several other rounds of the OBR as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged 0-5 years old using Injectable Polio Vaccine, have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunisation coverage beyond pre-COVID values.”

Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq

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