The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that Africa has defeated wild polio after the virus was finally eliminated in Nigeria. The Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), a task group appointed by the WHO to eradicate the disease, certified this on May 11, 2021 four years after the last recorded case.
Polio typically affects children under five and can lead to paralysis and sometimes even death. There is no cure, but the polio vaccine offers lifelong immunization. In 1996, an estimated 75,000 children in Africa were paralyzed by wild polio prompting nations to embark on a vaccination program launched by Nelson Mandela. The virus, however, clung on in Nigeria, because the polio immunization program in the in Nigeria was stymied by geography, skepticism and militant groups, who were responsible for killing health workers in remote parts of the country. Nevertheless, the country’s vaccine program prevailed. With Nigeria now free of wild polio, the virus can only be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In a recent speech, the director-general of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the eradication of wild polio in Africa as a “public health triumph”. He added that the infrastructure and lessons from the polio eradication effort are vital tools for other health challenges.
This report was submitted by our Independent Reporter, Onyinyechi Cynthia (Nigeria). You too can start earning money by becoming our Independent Reporter. Contact us at IR@downtownafrica.com