Nigeria marked three years freed from endemic wild polio on Wednesday, with health delegates saying the nation’s progress in fighting the crippling viral illness might lead to the whole of Africa being declared polio-free by early 2020.
The three-year milestone sets in motion a continent-wide process to make sure that all 47 countries of the World Health Organization’s African region have eliminated the virus, the delegates said.
Africa’s last case of wild polio was registered in Nigeria’s Borno State in August 2016.
Faisal Shuaib, chief of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency cautioned that the milestone was “one which we should delicately handle with cautious euphoria.”
Polio is a viral infection that hits the nervous system and may cause irreversible paralysis within hours. Kids under five are necessarily the most vulnerable; however, individuals can be fully protected with preventative vaccines.
To keep the virus on brim and eventually wipe it out altogether, inhabitants immunization coverage rates have to be high and regular surveillance is crucial.
Wild polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan; however, case numbers worldwide have been lowered mainly due to intense national and regional immunization for infants and children.
At a briefing in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Clement Peter, the WHO’s country representative, stated following six months would be “most important” to whether Africa can be certified polio-free.
Latest Global Polio Eradication Initiative numbers show that there have been a total of 65 cases of untamed polio worldwide so far in 2019 – 53 in Pakistan and 12 in Afghanistan.
The WHO’s Peter said Nigeria would submit its latest country data in March 2020, and “if the data confirm zero cases, the whole WHO (Africa) area could obtain wild polio-free certification as soon as mid-2020.”