Since January, scientists in the region have blamed the state’s precarious security situation for the emergence of 21 new cases of poliovirus type 2 (CVDPV2) in Zamfara State.
His Royal Highness Samaila Mera, the Emir of Argungu, revealed this on Tuesday in Gusau, during a one-day meeting with traditional leaders of completely inaccessible communities in Zamfara State.
He claims that 50 children across the country have been infected with the poliovirus type 2 that originated in Zamfara State, with 21 of those instances occurring within the state itself, and that the virus has spread to 26 other states in Nigeria and 29 other African countries.
He said, “Because most of the rural areas are inaccessible due to security difficulties, the state has the highest number of polio cases in the country.
The state’s deplorable security situation has made it difficult, if not impossible, to reach many villages and children.
There is now a higher chance of an epidemic of diseases that can be prevented with vaccines, in particular of poliovirus that has mutated after being used in vaccines. Because of this, it has the highest disease burden of any state in the United States.
The Emir went on to explain that the meeting had discussed the information from Zamfara in depth and had concluded that comparable problems exist in the states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger.
He emphasized that the meeting’s purpose was to determine how many areas were inaccessible owing to safety concerns.
In his final remarks, Dr. Faisal Shuaibu, executive director and chief executive officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, emphasized the need of ending the spread of the poliovirus type 2 variant now in circulation by the end of the year.
He assured the public that, despite safety concerns, the agency will make every effort to vaccinate all children in the state against polio.
He emphasized the importance of working together with security authorities to build “safe corridors” for medical professionals.