The entire African region could shortly be deemed free of wild poliovirus, with Nigeria this month reaching three years without a single case.
Since the last outbreak of wild polio in 2016 in the northeast, Nigeria has engaged in significant efforts to bring the wild poliovirus count to zero. “Nigeria has strengthened supplementary immunisation activities and routine immunisation, implemented innovative strategies to vaccinate hard-to-reach children, and improved acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance. These efforts are all highly commendable,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Officer in Charge (OIC) for Nigeria, Dr Peter Clement.
However, authorities have warned the achievement is “very fragile” and say ending all forms of polio across the region remains an "unfinished success story", with low vaccination rates posing a major risk to other forms of poliovirus outbreaks.
The Africa Regional Commission for Certification of Polio Eradication (ARCC) will now begin a rigorous process to confirm if each country in the region is wild polio-free and the region could receive wild polio-free certification as soon as mid-2020, leaving only one region out of six around the world (the Eastern Mediterranean region) where wild poliovirus still exists.