By Isiyaku Ahmed, Kano
The world health organization has declared Nigeria Polio free after completion of documentation for the free status.
The United Nation – UN health agency disclosed this on its regional office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo in an official twitter handle @WHOAFRO. “Today, Nigeria has complete documentation for wild polio virus-free is accepted by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for Polio eradication – ARC
It is a historic day for Nigeria, Africa and the globe polio program, WHO stated in the tweet.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said “the outstanding commitment and efforts that got Nigeria off the endemic list must continue, to keep Africa polio-free, we must now support the efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan so they soon join the polio-free world.”
According to WHO, since 1988, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 percent, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed every year, in more than 125 endemic countries. Today, two countries remain which have never stopped endemic transmission of polio: Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there have been in 2015, 41 cases reported (32 in Pakistan, 9 in Afghanistan).
In 2012 Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, according to WHO.
In its statement, WHO said that Nigeria has made remarkable progress against polio, but continued vigilance is needed to protect these gains and ensure that polio does not return.
Nigeria has not reported a case of wild polio-virus since 24 July 2014, and all laboratory data has confirmed that a full 12 months have passed without any new cases.
Immunization and surveillance activities must continue to rapidly detect a potential re-introduction or re-emergence of the virus, the agency said, explaining that only after three years have passed without a case of wild poliovirus on the African continent will an official ”certification” of polio eradication be conducted at the regional level in Africa.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the public-private partnership leading the effort to eradicate polio on the planet, called the development a ”historic achievement” in global health.