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Health

Nigeria Hits 2 Years Without Polio!

Gavi/Adrian Brooks

Humanity is one step closer to a polio-free future for every child, everywhere. Polio – a disease that has paralyzed tens of millions of children and forced people deeper into poverty – is on the brink of eradication.

Today marks two years since the last reported case of the debilitating disease in Nigeria. Reaching this milestone is a historic and remarkable achievement for Nigeria, one in which we can all take pride, and it is an important step toward a world without polio.

Innovative strategies, such as increased community involvement and the establishment of Emergency Operations Centres at the national and state level, and the support and commitment of the government, partners, community leaders and health workers have been pivotal to Nigeria’s progress.

Nigeria has made key investments to develop lasting infrastructure, knowledge and expertise to reach children with other life-saving vaccines and important health interventions.

It is imperative that Nigeria remain polio free. To achieve this, it is essential that Nigeria sustain political and financial commitments at all levels of government, and strengthen surveillance to minimize the risk and consequences of re-infection. Improvements must also be made to vaccination campaigns and coverage, particularly in hard-to-reach and insecure areas to protect vulnerable children.

As well as keeping Nigeria polio-free, important steps need to be taken to prevent outbreaks of vaccine-derived poliovirus, which can occur due to gaps in immunization coverage. This issue continues to be a challenge for the country, with both environmental samples and cases of acute flaccid paralysis - a clinical syndrome characterized by rapid onset of weakness - have been detected in Nigeria in the last 13 months.

Although remarkable progress has been made, the job is not yet finished and continued efforts in Nigeria are as crucial as ever. With two remaining endemic countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan – polio remains a threat to unimmunized children everywhere in the world.

But a few more years of sustained investment can end this threat. Eradicating polio will be one of the greatest achievements for humanity.