Integrating Essential Polio Eradication Functions into existing COVID-19 Response Activities

Polio has existed in Nigeria as far back as the 1950s. In 2006, Nigeria had the greatest number of confirmed cases of polio worldwide. (However, with the implementation of a more ‘‘collaborative approach,’’ incorporating other vaccines and health incentives such as bed nets, the number of polio cases declined). Moreover, on August 25, 2020, NIGERIA AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA REGION were declared WILD POLIO VIRUS -free (zero cases of the wild poliovirus).

However, Nigeria had eight cases of the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in 2020 and in 2021, many states and FCT reported a total 415 cases. This occurred because of immunity gaps in children due to low routine immunization coverage, and missing children during immunization campaigns. The viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes and disruptions to routine immunization in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps, which led to new and wider outbreaks, and increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus within Nigeria. The need for upscale and innovative strategies/approaches to foster a change in behaviour and improved uptake of vaccines is pertinent.

In this project, Vaccine Network for Disease Control:

  • Mapped and built the capacity of six selected CSOs on Polio Assets and the Whole Family Approach. The WFA is a strategy wherein EVERY member of the family can access at least one health service during a family visit to the health facility.  The health facility becomes a one-stop health facility WITH CHILDHOOD VACCINATION (Routine Immunization), SCREENING FOR HYPERTENSION, DIABETES AND MALNUTRITION.  Together, we designed strategies on how to include/integrate polio activities into the CSOs programs and activities e.g. COVID-19 activities
  • Identified priority areas to clarify areas of collaboration especially around the already existing integration approach (family approach)
  • Conducted advocacy visits to the relevant State primary health care boards and partners to synergize priority areas.
  • Adapted an accountability framework (from FCT-AM) to gauge the level of preparedness of the health facilities for this novel strategy.

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