A team of twenty-six Rotarian orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists from India have arrived Nigeria to carry out free corrective surgery in more than 400 polio victims.
The doctors who are on a 10-day mission in Nigeria are expected to conduct these surgeries in University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada and Keffi Medical Centre, Nasarawa State.
The Minister of Health, Prof. C.O.Onyebuchi Chukwu in his welcome address said the project will bring a far reaching awareness to the dreaded disease and help the country be a polio free nation.
The Minister added that the ground breaking event will help in sending a strong message to the communities that are resisting immunization and create an atmosphere of faith in the effort to eradicate polio in the country.
Commending the efforts of the surgeons, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu assured that when the first phase of the project is successful, Nigeria being one of the three remaining endemic countries in the world along with Pakistan and Afghanistan will be completely free of polio.
The Minister of State, Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate who is the Chairman of the Task Force on Polio Eradication in Nigeria, appreciated Rotary International’s effort noting that the project will not only bring succor to the affected families but will endear the polio eradication programme in Nigeria to stakeholders both locally and internationally.
Responding, the past President of Rotary International (1991-92), Rajendra K.Saboo hinted that the idea to help Nigeria in fighting polio stemmed from the success story of corrective surgery recorded in India, thereby making India a polio free country now.
Mr. saboo expressed optimism that the project will further strengthen the bilateral relations between India and Nigeria and also promote world peace through service.
To sustain this corrective limb surgeries after the departure of the visiting Indians, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Ado Mohammed said that the Nigerian orthopedic surgeons who have expressed their desire and commitment to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health, Rotarians and other volunteers will continue to carry out these life changing services to people in need.
It should be recalled that Rotary International has a history of being proactive and innovative. In 1988, it initiated the Polio Eradication Immunization (PEI) which has saved over 300 million children globally. It has again initiated the first ever reconstructive surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa and chosen Nigeria this year.
The association donated twenty incubators to the Federal Ministry of Health as part of their contribution towards curbing newborn and infant mortality in Nigeria.