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Solar power joins in the fight against polio in Nigeria

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The world is adopting clean energy at an unprecedented pace, and solar power is the energy source that has seen a significant uptake across the globe.

Recognizing the role of energy in delivering quality healthcare services, the World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered solar panels to a health facility in Borno State, Nigeria to ensure an uninterrupted power supply for essential health services providers.

The solar panels- 48 of them with 330 watts each, 21KVA inverters, and 24 tabular batteries- were commissioned at the Polio Laboratory by Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO country representative.

It is intended to give the facility an uninterrupted power supply for the quick testing of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) samples that are collected from the field.

This intervention is a response to the insurgency attack on infrastructure in the state in January 2021 which is affecting operations at the accredited Polio Laboratory at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

The solar panels delivered to power the facility is in response to the increasing impact of climate change on people’s health and reinforce the commitment to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems as emphasized at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26).

The installation of solar panels, according to Mulombo, is part of the best practices aimed at improving health services to avoid disruption in laboratory activities.

He added, “WHO will provide additional support to ensure the capacity of the polio laboratory in strengthening the fight against poliovirus in Nigeria. Also, WHO will continue to support the state technically and ensure essential health services are adequately provided.”

Speaking on the intervention, Professor Ibrahim Kidda, Head of Immunology Department, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, said, “WHO’s intervention in the state and the Polio laboratory specifically, cannot be overemphasized.

However, the predicament we found ourselves [in] during the ten months of power outage had a negative impact on effectively carrying out our mandate.

I believe this project would play an enormous role in ensuring continuity of the laboratory activities and save Nigeria and Africa the embarrassment it might cause to Global Polio Eradication Efforts.”

To maintain the win against wild poliovirus, Nigeria needs to continue the AFP surveillance and sample collection. There is also a need to continue testing to support the battle against the Vaccine Derived Polio Virus 2 (cVDPV2) that is circulating and is already reported in some states.

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