The fight against Polio has been on for a very long time with successes and setbacks in the process of ridding the world of this disease. Millions have been infected, crippled or died from this disease, both ordinary people and famous people, among whom was the war time President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. That was how critical its ravaging power was in the past. Polio has taken its toll in Nigeria on manpower and ability, and grossly limited the destinies of infected people.

The story of Umar from Jigawa state still remains a striking example of how deadly polio is and the need to join hands to vanquish it. On the 27th November 1999, a house wife in a remote village of Jigawa state, Mrs. Amina Abubakar called her three-year-old son, Umar to come down from their old flaccid mattress to eat masa, a local stable food. Her son had been down with fever and there was no money for hospital treatment but he appeared to be getting better. The little boy tried to get himself out of bed but could not and as he continued to try, he found out he had lost the ability to do so and he began to cry for his mother’s help. His mother was both angry and concerned that he could not do what he used to do without any stress, thinking he wanted to be doted on. As she carried her little poor son out of the bed and dropped him on the floor, his limb went numb. It was polio. She was alarmed and shouted for help because she didn’t know what to call whatever that had befallen her son, as she had neither heard of polio nor its vaccine.

Umar just turned 23 this year and had since graduated from crying for mother’s help to crying for that of the society as he crawls through the streets begging for alms. His destiny, talent, life’s dream and whatever contribution he would have made to the development of the society are all crippled by polio which first crippled and terribly twisted his two legs. The distasteful effect of polio is not only physical but also robs one of the stability of his emotion, mind and some talents. This is one in millions of dreams, talents, ambitions and contributions polio has robbed the world of and its undesired effect can never be overestimated. The symptoms of polio are scarily discomforting ranging from fever, symmetric facial paralysis, ascending paralysis, bowel and bladder dysfunction, numbness and hyperesthesia and in some cases death.

This is the reason Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, on 23rd of October in continuation with its commitment to polio eradication with Rotary International, unveiled a Polio Billboard along Airport Road, Lugbe, Abuja, courtesy of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation as part of awareness campaign. Sir Dr. Emeka Offor who is the Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria takes part in immunization of children every year as 24th October is designated as world Polio day. According to him, ‘until polio is completely eradicated worldwide, every child is still at risk.’ It was based on this realization that he has continued to immensely commit his resources to see that the world is freed from any trace of polio. On the 3rd of November, he will join Rotary International for special fund raising event to pull resources together for that purpose.

See the photo album of world polio day activities in Nigeria.

It should be recalled that on 21st August 2019, Nigeria marked three years without any case of wild Poliovirus. Nigeria has so far gone three years without any child being paralyzed by the wild polio virus and this is an achievement, the 1st of 3 milestones. The stakeholders in the fight against polio have agreed there should be no celebration on this milestone. This is to ensure we don’t encourage complacency but continue the fight towards polio eradication_ the reason for week long activities for this year’s World Polio Day. If the current status is sustained through combined efforts of all stakeholders, the African region will be declared polio free by World Health organization in March 2020. Nigeria is the last polio endemic nation in Africa and that calls for continued commitment by Rotary International, support from organizations like Sir Emeka Offor Foundation and the activities of advocacy, awareness creation, fund raising, immunization and field supervision to continue with all seriousness and focus, until we are completely free from wild poliovirus.

Contact: Obi Ebuka Onochie
Media Correspondent Chrome Group/Sir Emeka Offor Foundation
Obi.ebuka@thechromegroup.net