Nigeria has commenced the process to be certified polio-free nation by 2020, having gone through three years without recording any case of wild polio virus.
Nigeria is the only polio-endemic country on the Africa continent and one of the three countries in the world.
The last wild polio virus case in Nigeria was recorded in Borno State on 21st August 2016.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Nigeria’s achievement of this critical milestone is a step towards certifying the entire African region wild polio virus-free by mid-2020.
Officer in Charge of WHO, Dr. Peter Clement, stated this at the world press conference on ‘three years without wild polio virus in Nigeria’, organised by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), yesterday in Abuja.
He said “Following the Nigeria three-year mark, the Africa Regional Commission for certification of Polio Eradication (ARCC) will begin rigorous process to confirm if each country in the region is wild polio free. Nigeria will submit it’s final country data for evaluation in March 2020, provided there will be no new wild polio cases. If the data confirms zero cases, the entire WHO AFRO region could receive wild polio free certification as soon as mid 2020.”
He however stressed that ending all forms of polio across the region remains an unfinished success story, adding that low immunisation rates pose a major risk to other forms of polio virus outbreaks.
To prevent the resurgence of wild polio virus and stop the spread of outbreaks, Dr. Clement called for more political and financial support to the programme.
In his address, the Executive Director/CEO, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said “this press conference is to mark this significant milestone, while ensuring that we do not lose sight of the huge amount of work that is left for us to do before we are certified polio-free by the relevant global organisations.”
According to him, the achievement would certainly not have been possible without the novel strategies adopted in the consistent fight against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases.
UNICEF, USAID and other partners in their goodwill messages, commended Nigeria’s effort towards improved immunisation and polio eradication in the country.