Nigeria has seen a resurgence of polio caused in part by the lack of reliable power.
Polio is a potentially fatal virus that attacks the nervous system, and was global pandemic until vaccines was introduced in the 1950s.
In 2016, Nigeria was one of only 5 countries globally that reported cases of the illness. On 12 August 2016, Nigeria’s minister of health announced a polio outbreak, following two children being paralysed by the disease.
Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) revealed that only 37 percent of children are partially vaccinated, with a shocking 40 percent are not vaccinated at all.
The World Energy Access report recently highlighted that only 6 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity, leaving 171 million without any access. According to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the lack of electricity is hindering the government’s efforts for store vaccines against deadly viruses.
“Nigeria has electricity challenges, We have infrastructure problems in the supply chain of our vaccine supply in the country”, said Lawal Bakare, the NCDC’s spokesperson.
Vaccines must be stored at low temperatures, between -21°C (-5.8°F) and 4°C (39.2°F), if they are to keep their potency. Nigeria is a hot, tropical country that on average experiences temperatures of around 27°C (80°F) all year round. Regular power outages mean that refrigerators are unable to maintain the required temperature, leading to the spoiling of vaccines.
The problem is further compounded by the worsening security situation in the north of the country, where Islamist militants, such as Boko Haram, are making it increasingly difficult for health workers to reach those most in need of vaccination.
There is no excuses for allowing children to be at risk from diseases such as polio. Nigeria is a country blessed with huge natural resources wealth which should ensure that its country has access to 24/7 power. A poor electricity supply means that 80 percent of Nigerian children are currently at risk from various diseases preventable using vaccines.
Nigeria cannot protect its most vulnerable unless it has reliable and secure power supply. Electricity is not just a product of development, it is the key to its success.