Africa is finally free from polio after a three-year wait for Nigeria to reach a no-case status, being the last country on the continent that was still battling the disease.
This achievement has been formally recognized by the World Health Organisation and the Africa Regional Certification Commission during a virtual session.
President Muhammadu Buhari assures the global community that Nigeria will leverage on the lessons learnt from polio eradication to strengthen its health system.
Nigeria is the last African country to be declared free from wild polio
It is heartening news for President Muhammadu Buhari who had pledged not to bequeath a polio-endemic country to his successor. He insists that Africa must guard this achievement of eradicating the Wild Polio Virus jealously by ensuring all necessary steps are taken to prevent a resurgence of the dreaded disease
Nigeria’s relief at achieving a polio-free status is understandable considering the fact that it had been well on the way to achieving this four years ago before three wild polio cases were rediscovered in 2016 in areas under Boko Haram control
It has now left Afghanistan and Pakistan behind as the two remaining countries that are polio-endemic. The vaccination campaign in Nigeria required a huge effort to reach remote and dangerous places under threat from militant violence and some health workers were killed in the process
It also required huge acts of philanthropy from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dangote Foundation. More than 95% of Africa’s population has now been immunised. This was one of the conditions that the Africa Regional Certification Commission set before declaring the continent free from wild polio