Nigeria has reached a major polio “milestone” and has been removed from the list of polio-endemic countries after a year of not reporting a single case of wild polio.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Nigeria has not reported a case of wild polio virus since July 24, 2014.
“All laboratory data confirm that 12 months have passed without any new case in the country.
“Nigeria has brought the world one major step closer to achieving this goal and it is critical that we seize this opportunity to end polio for good and ensure that future generations of children are free from this devastating disease.
“This leaves only Pakistan and Afghanistan as the only countries with endemic cases of the disease,’’ the organisation said in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday.
The statement quoted the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as describing the development as historic achievement in global healthcare.
WHO issued the statement after the recent Global Polio Eradication meeting in New York.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The statement recalled that in 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide.
It said that the success was the result of concerted efforts by all levels of government, civil society groups and religious leaders in the country.
It observed further that more than 200,000 volunteers across the country had repeatedly immunised more than 45 million children under the age of five years.
It noted that increased community involvement and the establishment of emergency operations centres at the national and state levels, had also contributed to Nigeria’s success.
According to the statement, such support with continued domestic funding from Nigeria is essential to keep Nigeria and the entire region polio-free.
The statement quoted WHO as warning that immunisation and surveillance activities must continue to rapidly detect any potential re-introduction or re-emergence of the virus.
“After three years have passed without a case of wild polio virus on the continent, official certification of polio eradication will be conducted at the regional level in Africa.
“Eradicating polio will be one of the greatest achievements in human history which and have a positive impact on global health for generations to come,’’ the statement said.