The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his Ogun State counterpart, Senator Ibikunle Amosun on Saturday called for vigilance from all residents in the two neighbouring states to ensure the sustenance of the gains of the total absence of poliomyelitis in the two states since 2009.
The two Governors who spoke at the St. John Anglican Primary School, Ogijo /Ikorodu border town venue of the quarterly Governors Forum Polio eradication sensitization campaign said both states cannot afford to rest on their oars about the need to keep Polio out of Lagos and Ogun States.
Governor Fashola added that since Lagos serves as an entry point which plays host to several thousand everyday who migrate to the state in search of the golden fleece, they could bring along new cases of Polio which will result in the state starting afresh for the gains already made.
He explained that the joint sensitization programme which is the second to be organized by the two states which are both controlled by the Action Congress of Nigeria bear further testimony to the co-operation of both states working together to protect all children of immunization age from disability.
The Governor said the dedication of a separate day by the Governors Forum is indicative of a genuine desire to eradicate Polio and take Nigeria out of the infamous group of PAIN (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria) countries which has now become PAN with the success of India in eradicating the scourge of the disease.
The Lagos State Governor said in a world where even the able bodied are having a herculean task eking out a living, it would be tougher for an innocent person who had through the affliction of a preventable disease become incapacitated.
He added that the renewed campaign against eradication of Polio should not be seen as a mere war against Polio but a war against the effects of poverty which must be curtailed, adding that just as the disease could be a very migrant one which needs proactive efforts, the states would continue to be one step ahead till it is eradicated.
The Governor said the states would also cooperate with the Local Governments to ensure that just as the hardwork which started three years ago has paid off, there would be no room for slip-offs.
The Governor thanked all partners in the Polio Eradication campaign such as the Rotary and JICA for their commitment to the well being of the people in the state, adding that it is a war that must be won with the collaboration of everyone.
Senator Amosun in his address said the choice of youths as the centre of focus for the campaign is very strategic because they constitute the main body of those who would be at the very receiving end when afflicted by Polio.
He added that both states believe that if the Governments of Lagos and Ogun States can get it right as they have done since 2009, the whole country will also get it right in a very short while.
Speaking earlier, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Olaokun Soyinka in an address of welcome said the first of the joint immunization campaigns took place on 11 February at Akinade/Ologogoro village which borders Lagos and Ogun States.
He urged parents and guardians of all children of immunization age to ensure that they are immunized against the Poliomyelitis disease and other child killer diseases and ensure that Lagos and Ogun remain free from the disease.
Dr (Mrs) Mejebi Philips from the World Health Organisation (WHO) who spoke on behalf of the United Nations agencies commended the partnership between the Lagos and Ogun Governments and the different agencies involved in the fight against Polio.
She said since 2009, Lagos State and Ogun State have been Polio free, adding that there are however reported cases of 27 wild Polio cases in the Northern part of Nigeria which requires the collective efforts of everyone to stamp out.
The interactive session of the programme was coordinated by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr (Mrs) Yewande Adeshina and her Ogun state counterpart, Dr Rotimi Ogungbe.
Speaking during the session, Dr Adeshina said for any child who was afflicted by Polio it is either that the parents did not take the immunization or did not complete the dosage which explains why such a child would still have paralysis.
She debunked the notion that the Polio vaccine may cause infertility in some of the children who have taken the full dosage of the immunization later on in their lives as it is being bandied about by some people.
Governor Fashola and his Ogun State counterpart later administered some doses of the Polio vaccines on some of the children at the event.
Prominent among those who were present at the ceremony were members of the Lagos State Executive Council including the Health Commissioner, Dr Jide Idris, their Ogun State counterparts, Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial district, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Salaudeen Oyebade Oyefusi and his wife, several school pupils and residents of the area.