Nigeria on Wednesday marked three years free of endemic wild polio with health officials saying the nation’s progress in fighting the crippling viral disease could result in the whole of Africa being declared polio-free early next year.
According to health officials, the three-year milestone sets in motion a continent-wide process to ensure that all 47 countries of the World Health Organization’s African region have eradicated the virus.
Executive Director of the National primary health care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib in a press conference urged the country to ensure they do not lose sight of the huge amount of work left to be done before being certified polio free by relevant global organisations.
“Today, the 21st day of August 2019, Nigeria makes history having achieved three years without a case of wild polio virus, WPV. The last wild polio virus case was isolated in a child in Borno state on the 21st of August 2016,” he added.
Polio is a viral infection that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.
Children under five are the most vulnerable, but people can be fully protected with preventative vaccines.
“We must remember that the battle is not over yet, we have to maintain our efforts and intensify them to make sure the historic gains are sustained and that polio-free certification is obtained for Nigeria in due time next year,’‘ said UNICEF Deputy Country Representative, Pernille Ironside.
Latest Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) figures show that there have been a total of 65 cases of wild polio worldwide so far in 2019 – 53 in Pakistan and 12 in Afghanistan.