#WorldPolioDay; Celebrating Three Years Without A Single Case of Polio In Nigeria
Written by Smooth FM on October 24, 2019
According to the world health organisation, Nigeria has gone three years without a case of polio, putting it on the brink of being declared free of the disease.
This is a dramatic change from 2012 when the country accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide.
Nigeria is the last country in Africa to have witnessed a case of polio – in Borno state, in the north-east. Outside of Nigeria, the last case on the continent was in the Puntland region of Somalia, in 2014.
In 2018, there was a total of 33 polio cases confined to just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But health experts urge caution.
They must first be sure that every part of the continent has been reached and no cases have been missed. For now, there are renewed calls to vaccinate children against polio.
It has taken the effort of thousands of volunteers who have risked their lives in some instances to deliver the much-needed vaccines to all parts of the continent.
But “to end polio, at least 95% of children must be vaccinated, no matter where they live,” says WHO head of polio eradication Michel Zaffran.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.
World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.