Polio Eradication: Nigeria Is The Last Country To Eradicate Polio In Africa


Poliomyelitis is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. Over the years, the disease has devastated the world, with those in developing countries suffering the most.

In April 2012, the World Health Assembly declared the completion of polio eradication a programmatic emergency for global public health. During this time, the three worst affected countries-Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan were described by health experts as countries which were not showing progress in the fight against the disease, an issue which could lead to total paralysis.

Therefore, in Africa, Nigeria was the only headache for the continent’s objective to eradicate the disease. All countries in Africa, except for Nigeria, had successfully eradicated the disease by 2012.

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According Take Part, the problem with Nigeria then was securing access for vaccinators to freely move and give vaccines to children. It is said that religious leaders skeptical of foreign aid have thwarted a number of vaccination efforts and have even attacked immunization workers.

However, the latest news from Africa’s most populous nation is that the country has gone a full year without a single reported case of Polio. This, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a milestone achievement, not just in Nigeria, but also for the Global Health Program.

Nigeria’s achievement signifies historic progress in the fight to end the disease. Additionally,  if no new cases are reported in any African country for the next three years, WHO said it will officially declare the continent polio-free.

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However, Rotary International’s National Polio-Plus Committee chair for Nigeria, Tunji Funsho advised that it is too early to celebrate this achievement. He said in a statement, “It is too soon to celebrate. The world needs to keep polio eradication a high priority to ensure the disease does not return within our borders.

The director of WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Hamid Jafari, also echoed his thoughts at a Rotary International convention last month, saying that “As long as polio exists anywhere, it will continue to be a threat everywhere. This is a reminder that we cannot let politics and conflict stand in our way. At the end of the chain stands a mother or father that just wants to protect their child. But the coming months are the real test. We are entering the high season for polio transmission.

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Statistics on the disease showed that 125 countries around the world were on the polio epidemic list in 1988. But today, only two countries-Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to battle the disease. WHO said it declared India and the Southeast Asian region polio-free in 2014. It is said that last year, 90 percent of the world’s reported polio cases were in Pakistan, the highest it has been in more than a decade.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made polio a top priority in its numerous humanitarian assistance programs in 2013. The foundation also increased funding for the fight against the disease in the Third World. It is expected that Nigeria will be able to sustain this hard-won victory against the disease by developing its human resource capacity.

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