Africa Is Close To Being Polio-Free

It would be a huge breakthrough.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, is on the verge of being declared polio-free.

There is no cure for the disease, but it's been three years since a new polio case was reported in Nigeria. In 2012, Nigeria accounted for half of all the global polio cases in the world. If a few more months go by without any new cases, Africa will be declared polio-free in 2020. 

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"We are confident that soon we will be trumpeting the certification that countries have, once and for all, kicked polio out of Africa," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement.

A child receives a polio vaccine in India.  Logan Tittle / A Plus

In 2017, A Plus reported on the vaccination push in India that eliminated the virus from the country. Nigeria is now close to entering a similar phase — going a long enough period of time without any new cases of polio that it can declare itself polio free.

The turnaround has been remarkable. In 2012, there were still 200 new cases of polio a year. In 2006, after polio had nearly been eradicated, cases spike into the thousands in Nigeria. The WHO says the public attention, funding and political will must remain in order for them to finish the job this time, The Guardian reported

"This achievement would certainly not have been possible without the novel strategies adopted in the consistent fight against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases," The Executive Director of NPHCDA stated. "We commend the strong domestic and global financing and the commitment of government at all levels." 

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