Addis Ababa October 25/2017 The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Rotary International lauded Ethiopia’s great achievements in polio eradication.
This was disclosed at the 5th World Polio Day celebrated in Ethiopia under the theme “Commending Ethiopia's polio free status, sustaining the gain.”
They have also reaffirmed their commitment to building on the success of the joint polio eradication efforts to sustain polio free status of Ethiopia.
During the celebration WHO Representative to Ethiopia, Dr. Akpaka Kalu said Ethiopia maintained its polio-free status for almost four years (45 months) after the last wild polio case was reported in Somali regional state in January 2014.
“We are very close to eradicating polio in Ethiopia and congratulation to you all, for this achievement. The country should continue its effort to maintain the achievements,” Dr. Kalu said.
Dr. Kalu added that “celebrating our success day is key to boost the end result that the country anticipated for ensuring that no child anywhere suffers from this completely preventable disease”.
“Though we have made good progress, we still have to work to sustain the gains towards polio eradication, the representative said.
“The progress we have made is mainly attributed to the leadership of the Ministry of Health, the commitment from the regional states and their communities as well as the great collaboration of polio partners like the Rotary International, UNICEF, USAID, CDC and Core group. I thank you all for your great support,” Dr. Kalu said.
Noting that polio continues to circulate in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, the representative said as long as polio is still circulating in some countries, Ethiopia remains at risk and hence urged the need to be vigilant.
WHO has committed to continue its support to the Ethiopian government to strengthen implementation of all polio eradication strategies including routine immunization, surveillance, polio SIAS and mop up activities, Dr Kalu stated.
Ethiopia is playing a leading role in eliminating polio and contributing great contribution to the world’s efforts in this regard, said UNICEF Health Specialist Maria Marisa.
She said “without the leadership of the Ethiopian government, we cannot have achieved this to sustain polio free status in Ethiopia and of course the big contributor to world which is the global polio eradication.”
State Minister of Health, Dr Kebede Worku said immunization is one of the major priority agendas for Ethiopia which is proved by increasing government’s contribution for vaccine procurement and program management.
Dr Kebede said, “The equitable service delivery to the community through the impressive health extension program has been a key for routine immunization improvement”.
Ethiopia has joined the Polio Eradication Initiative since 1996, since then it has accelerated implementation of strategies in the areas with high risk of polio importation and undetected circulation, the minster indicated.
Through strategies and high commitment from the national and regional governments as well as the contributions of partners, the country has become polio free since January 2014, he pointed out.
This success of polio frees status has been recognized and accepted by the African Certification Commission (ARCC).
He said,” we thank Rotary International, WHO, UNICEF, U.S., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for your commitment and continuous supports for polio eradication efforts in the country. End polio now is an opportunity for countries and partners working on child survival as it leaves a legacy of stronger health system”.
Polio cases globally decreased by over 99 percent from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988, to only 37 reported cases in 2016.
Furthermore, the number of countries with polio endemic decreased from 125 to only three - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
The Polio Eradication and End Game Strategic Plan, developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative envisages a polio free world by 2018.