NIGERIA, NIGER START CROSS-BORDER SURVEILLANCE AGAINST POLIO, OTHERS

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Jutha Gupah, Maiduguri

The World Health Organization (WHO); Northeast Coordinator; Fadinding Manneh has said that experts from Nigeria and Niger have adopted cross-border disease surveillance strategies against diseases. The disease surveillance was disclosed in WHO’s weekly report released Wednesday in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. “The targeted border disease, include polio and measles as well as other vaccine preventable diseases activities across the international borders of Nigeria and Niger Republic,” said the report.

It noted that the cross-border surveillance are yielding enormous evidence-based results. The report said the exercise will ensure that eligible children along inaccessible borders are protected from vaccine preventable diseases including measles and polio. The meeting of experts was recently held in Maiduguri; in line with the purpose and scope of the International Health Regulations (IHR). “The meeting objectives include tracking cross-border population movement between Niger Republic and Nigerian inaccessible border settlements through profiling as well as fostering collaboration to synchronized cross border vaccination,” said Manneh in the report. He said during deliberations, officials from Nigeria and Niger Republic have committed to prevent, protect, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease. He explained that the preventions; are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, without interference to international traffic and trade.

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According to him; “In the last three years, cross-border surveillance and vaccination activities along inaccessible areas of Borno state in Nigeria and Diffa region in Niger Republic have found no less than 261 cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP). He said the cross-border surveillance have stemmed the tide of wild polio virus in the northeast. Deputy Governor of Diffa region, Alhaji Yahya Godi, reiterated the commitment of the government of Niger Republic to implement recommendations on the cross-border integrated disease surveillance and polio vaccination activities. “We are committed to implementing the expert recommendations on cross-border surveillance and vaccination activities to ensure that populations across the borders of Nigeria and Diffa region, Niger Republic are protected from vaccine preventable diseases,” he said.

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Meanwhile, WHO Nigeria in collaboration with the Borno State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has initiated several strategies for improving cross-border surveillance in inaccessible areas (Mobbar, Guzamala and Abadam) bordering Nigeria and Diffa region of Niger. Through the engagement of 1,180 community-based informants, the programme has found and timely reported 261 AFP cases from inaccessible areas of Borno since April 2018. “Reactive vaccination of more than 3,000 children, was in response to the outbreak of circulating vaccine derived polio virus along international borders of Borno state and Diffa region, Niger Republic,” said the report.

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