The study data showing that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation; was the last country on the continent to suffer from outbreaks of the wild polio virus; but has recording none since August 2016. Eradicating polio requires reaching more than 90% of vulnerable children and rigorous surveillance; tasks that have proven nearly impossible in war-torn areas.
By this WHO identifying several polio cases in northern Nigeria; despite previously declaring the country polio-free. If the data confirms zero cases, the entire African region could be polio free by middle of next year. The polio virus infects the brain and spinal cord, potentially causing lasting muscle pain, weakness or paralysis.
By this Nigeria government announcing; that 3 years had elapsing since it last recording a case of polio; a key step towards eradicating the notorious disease in Africa. Three years without a case of wild polio virus is a historic milestone for Nigeria and the global community. The West African giant will submit data on its polio cases to the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020; a move that could pave the way for the whole of the continent to be declared free of the virus.
Polio virus outbreaks
The virus only infects humans, with young children highly vulnerable. It is transmitting through contact with the faeces of infecting individuals; such as through unsanitary water or food. It has no cure but can be prevented through immunisation. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan are still battling incidents of the disease around the world.
The fight against the virus in Nigeria was slowed by the Boko Haram insurgency that has torn apart the northeast of the country over the past decade. The insecurity, which has displaced more than two million people, hampered vaccinations in the region and prevented access to people in remote areas. Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin have held polio vaccination campaigns to prevent the spread of the virus.
Spread of the virus
Once a worldwide scourge, the number of cases around the globe have fallen by more than 99% since 1988, according to the WHO. In 2012, Nigeria had 122 polio sufferers; more than half of the 223 victims worldwide. Despite the progress, aid organisations warned there could be no letup. The battle is not over yet; Pernille Ironside, Unicef’s deputy representative for Nigeria.
Nigeria is thought to be the only country in Africa where polio is spreading. The World Health Organization says it’s aiming to vaccinate more than 115 million children against polio across Africa next week, in its continuing bid to wipe out the crippling disease.