Health - The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Nigeria free of guinea worm, effective from 2013, according to Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who presented the guinea worm free certificate signed by the WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chang.
Prof. Chukwu presented the guinea worm free certificate, confirming the nation's new status, to members of the Nigerian Federal Executive Council, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, just before the commencement of the Council meeting in Abuja Wednesday.
An obviously elated President Jonathan described the development as epoch making, especially coming at a time that the country was celebrating its centenary anniversary.
According to him, 'We are especially delighted that this milestone coincides with the period we are marking our centenary as a nation. It is certainly a centenary gift to this country. The certification by WHO is a global recognition of how far we have come and the success of the work that has been done to rid our nation of this scourge.
'Eradication of guinea worm disease that has long plagued many parts of our country has placed interminable burden on our citizens and as a government we have been working very hard and today we have received the good news.”
The President said his administration would extend its fight against other dangerous diseases plaguing the country towards ensuring that they were eradicated or reduced to the barest minimum, noting, 'Just as we have fought the incidence of guinea worm and succeeded so are we committed in our fight against many endemic diseases such as HIV AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis and of course polio.
'While polio is yet to be eliminated in our country, we have seen the impressive results in the control of wild polio virus type 3 transmission as well as reduction of about 50% cases of wild polio type1 in 2013 compared to 2012.
'Similarly no new cases of wild polio virus have been reported in the last three months. We are hopeful that transmission of wild polio will be interrupted this year, at least before the end of the year.
'While I congratulate the Federal Ministry of Health, the state governments and our citizens for the dedicated work that has been done, that has led to eradication of guinea worm disease, I must at the same time express appreciation to all our partners and stakeholders who have given strong support to us in this common course.
'In particular, I commend the collaboration and support of the Nigerian Guinea Worm Eradication Programme, the task-force handling it, the World Health Organisation, the CATA Centre, the UNICEF and the Yakubu Gowon Centre.'