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Obasanjo inaugurates Forum to combat Polio, Measles

Posted by By Charles Ozoemena on 2005/08/10 | Views: 359 |

Obasanjo inaugurates Forum to combat Polio, Measles

Abuja—President Olusegun Obasanjo assured yesterday that the last vestiges of polio disease would be out by the end of this year in the country.

Abuja—President Olusegun Obasanjo assured yesterday that the last vestiges of polio disease would be out by the end of this year in the country.

He gave the assurance while inaugurating at the State House Abuja, the Nigerian Forum of Religious andTraditional leaders and media on immunization andchild survival. The forum is a joint effort of protecting the Nigerian child from the deadly diseases of polio and measles.

The meeting was a follow-up to international meetings on polio held earlier this year in Kano. President Obasanjo said that the nation has a duty to improve on the health of the children with a view to securing the future of the country, and was confident that a partnership between government, Religious and traditional leaders and the media were crucial to effectively secure the health of the Nigerian child.

"We need to improve the health of children as an investment in the future of Nigeria. After all, they are our greatest assets. The current infant and child mortality figures are unacceptable to Nigeria and Nigerians", he said promising to ensure that polio is eradicated before end of this year.

"We have the means to prevent some of these deaths through diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. Every week children are still being paralyzed by Polio. But we have an unprecedented opportunity. Polio is on the brink of becoming the second disease to be eradicated on earth, after smallpox.

"We are making all efforts to stop transmission of the wild polio virus by the end of 2005. Let me assure you all that this Administration is fully committed to the survival and improving the health of children as emphasized in the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategies (NEEDS) and the MillenniumDevelopment Goals.

"The establishment of this Forum is therefore a major step towards the total eradication of polio and the promotion of policies and programmes that enhance child survival in general. This new Forum is a model of partnership we can build on. The religious leaders,traditional leaders and media, together, are at the core of communicating the importance of immunization and improving the health and well being of children.

"This Forum will play a key role in driving the process and bringing the important messages of the Dakar call to Action to the Local Governments and wards, reaching the most remote communities. The Kano and Dakar Call to Action recognized the responsibility of governments to the children of Africa, the status and role of religious and traditional leaders in society, and the importance of media in providing information and education", he asserted.

He said that the Central Working Committee will be responsible for coordinating the National Forum for immunization and child survival with the zones, states, LGAs and wards.

"Our focus on the ward service delivery system must be strengthened as this is where our child and people live. The goal is to take the programme to the children even in the remotest part ofthe country. This tripartite group representing religious leaders, traditional leaders and media will collaborate with the members of their respective groups to pass on the message to the lowest community level. I call upon the Forum to implement a plan of action to realize the set goals", he said. Minister of Health Prof. Olutayo Lambo in his opening address gave a situation report on the progress of eradicating polio in Nigeria and revealed that only 299 cases were recorded this year as against 488 cases registered same time last year.

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