SEOF and TCC Celebrate Milestone Achievement in Fight against Onchocerciasis

Sir Emeka Offor and President Jummy Carter
Sir Emeka Offor Foundation joins The Carter Center in celebrating the interruption of onchocerciasis (River blindness) transmission in two states of the country. Nasarawa and Plateau states are no longer on the list where transmission of the disease is still prevalent. The push to eliminate river blindness continues in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo.
River blindness is a parasitic infection than can cause intense itching, skin discolouration, rashes and serious eye disease that often lead to permanent blindness. The infected tiny black flies that breed in rapidly flowing river or stream spread the disease through its bites.
Over the years, there has been mass distribution of Ivermectin (Mectizan) in prevalent areas which is the medication for the prevention of river blindness transmission. As a result of this interruption, over two million residents of Plateau and Nasarawa states will no longer be taking Ivermectic drugs since transmission has been interrupted in their areas.
This is a remarkable achievement in the fight against river blindness and other tropical diseases being spearheaded by The Carter Center with other partners like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, USAID, etc.
The Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole stated that “river blindness has burdened Nigerians since the days of our ancestors but with the support of The Carter Center and other important partners, we are lifting this burden. What we need do is compliment this good work with careful surveillance to be sure the infection does not reoccur, in that way we can put river blindness into the dustbin of history.” There is a greater hope that Nigeria will eliminate river blindness in no distant time.


For more stories visit: https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/264623/two-states-in-nigeria-interrupt-transmission-of-river-blind.html

By Obi Ebuka Onochie
Photo Credit: Alex Aghomi

SEOF Celebrates Mothers' Day

Happy mothers at the eventAs Anglican women world wide marked their Mothering Sunday, the founder of the SEOF, Sir Emeka Offor and his wife Barr. Mrs. Adaora Offor had lunch with widows in Oraifite at the foundation headquarters.

These are some of the images from the event.

By Obi Ebuka Onochie

Photo Credit: Alex Aghomi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polio and Speaking Books: UNICEF, Rotary International and Sir Emeka Offor Press On

 

 

Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

International development Consultant

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The global war against poliovirus has been waged on many fronts for more than half a century with punctuated accelerations and decelerations. Over time, the geographical theaters have shifted remarkably, warranting boundaries to be redrawn or descaled. Eradication has been successful from the Americas, north, and south, and across the Atlantic to the far-flung fringes of the Pacific. Now, in these modern times, poliovirus has been pushed back to the volatile terrains of Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

Historically, the approach to a winning fight against polio had taken a rather unusual tact. The emergence of polio vaccine was a scientifically surreptitious breakthrough in the mid-fifties (1955). Its application brought immediate relief and raised the hope for eradication. But it was not enough to just have the vaccine. It became necessary to have a strategic response plan that is sustainable, progressive and result driven.

As years became decades, it became clear that global eradication of polio required frontline nations to lead the charge through the wheels of policies, advocacy, and diplomatic pressure. The evolution of the World Health Assembly’s social contract redefined the goal post and consequently set the stage for what is now known as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Fast tracking to 2014 and moving forward, the activities of Islamic Terrorist group, Boko Haram, in northeastern Nigeria, presented a major challenge in polio awareness creation and the administration of a vaccine to children. New strategies to reach communities in the volatile zones had to be adopted.

One creative strategy that has become indispensable is the creation of a corps of Volunteer Community Mobilizers (VCM). Nominated by their communities, these female volunteers go house-to-house, educating families about polio, how to prevent it and to ensure that all children under five years age receive the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Using a community-friendly approach, they can identify non-compliant parents and missed children.

To advance the efforts of VCMs, UNICEF collaborated with Rotary International and The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation to produce an ingenious audio device, a speaking book, called “Yes to Health, No to Polio.” It is a seminal work of Books of Hope LLC. The Foundation’s commitment of a total of $152,000 (N60.8 million) covered for the production of 15,000 copies of dual language (Hausa and English) audio books. The Speaking Books are expected to impact 1.5 million households, as each VCM visits, on average, 100 households.

Endorsed by Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the “Yes to Health, No to Polio” speaking book was targeted at the hard-to-reach communities in the northern Nigeria.

The colorful pictorial storybook, complemented by the dual language audio, tells the story of a young boy whose mission is to educate his family and community about the importance of hygiene and what measures they needed to take to prevent the spread of polio. With this new tool, UNICEF reports that VCMs have recorded great success in being key drivers in the sensitization efforts and routine immunization exercises. “Yes to Health, No to Polio” was among the important strategies that contributed to a zero transmission for almost two years in Nigeria.

In the ears of many public health interests, the emergence of polio Speaking Books signals a winning sound and hope for Nigeria’s polio End Game. In spite of the recent unfortunate setback caused by an outbreak of three new cases in Borno State, the country remains dedicated to the eradication of polio. What has become indispensable are steady hands by government agencies regarding continued strategy implementations, sustained awareness and broad surveillance across border, and continued funding from donor groups.

 

Sir Emeka Offor Vows to Defeat Polio Despite Setback

 

 

 

Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria: “We Shall Not Relent”

 

ABUJA, NIGERIA, August 30, 2016 – The founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is reflecting on years of remarkable public health achievements as he encourages a renewed emphasis on the END POLIO NOW campaign. Philanthropist and business leader Sir Emeka Offor, the Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria, is vowing to defeat polio despite the recent discovery of two cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) of Wild Poliovirus Type 1.

 

The two cases were isolated in July 2016. According to the National Polio Eradication Operations Center in Abuja, two children hailing from Gwoza and Jere local government area (LGA) of Borno State have been paralyzed by the disease. They marked the only recorded cases of polio in Nigeria since July 2014. The country was within months of being certified free and clear of the disease by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

“It is a disheartening turn of event in our collective efforts to rid the country of the dreaded disease,” said Sir Emeka Offor. “We have wrestled polio together for many years and have enjoyed remarkable success. We shall not relent. We will now refocus and join hands to continue the fight to ensure that all children are safe from the disease. We will defeat polio.”

 

The Rotary International Polio Plus Chair, Michel K. McGovern, admitted that it was disappointing news for Rotarians all over the world and particularly for those in Nigeria, who have been at the forefront of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

 

“Rotary members remain resilient in the face of challenges,” said McGovern. “Today, we roll up our sleeves and redouble our efforts to rid the world of this devastating disease. Rotary members in Nigeria are already hard at work to support the outbreak response, and our network will also be tapped to protect children quickly in surrounding countries.”

 

The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved approximately N6.5 billion when the polio crisis started. Earlier this month, the Federal Government of Nigeria pledged an additional N9.8 billion to assist the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in implementing a response plan, which includes immunizing up to 56 million children by November 2016.

 

Early Successes, Frustrations

 

From 1996 to 2001, aggressive and expansive mass immunization exercises had advanced Nigeria’s success in the fight against polio nationally. In the South, polio transmission was successfully halted in 2005. The campaign in the North faltered, plagued by rumors and misconceptions about the safety of the vaccine. The brewing radical Islamic terrorist activities of the infamous Boko Haram group further inflamed the situation with cases increasing from 202 in 2002 to 1,122 in 2006.

 

Turning Point

Concerted efforts in the form of diplomacy, funding and political pressure by WHO, GPEI representatives, Rotary International and private sector organizations inspired a change in the trajectory for polio eradication. This combination fast-tracked awareness and anti-polio exercises. By late 2013, polio cases were down to six with a promising endgame by 2017. By July 2015, Nigeria had become delisted from the three endemic nations remaining Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

“The isolated cases of AFP in Borno State are a sobering reminder that no child is safe until every potential virus becomes eradicated worldwide,” said Sir Emeka. “Nigeria should be unreserved in its vigilance, intensify surveillance across borders, and continue to drive forward the campaign on national immunization, particularly in the hard to reach communities of the northeast.”

Written by: Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

International Development Consultant

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