Twenty years ago, the late Nelson Mandela had launched the campaign ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa”. Since then, Africa has seen a drastic fall in the number of polio cases. By 2003, polio was driven out from 43 African countries with just 3 remaining – Nigeria, Niger and Egypt. And in 2014, Nigeria succeeded in its endeavour to be polio-free, and it has been two years now that the country hasn’t had any polio case.
Being a third world country, Nigeria hasn’t let poverty or any other quandary come in between the health of the people. Ever since the country has been removed from the list of polio-endemic countries on by the World Health Organization (WHO), it has maintained its stand for two years. This is the longest that Nigeria has been free from a case of wild poliovirus (WPV). It has surely set an example for the world to see that ‘if you strive for something, you will achieve it.’ The last Nigerian polio case was reported on 24th July 2014 when Isah Ahmadu from Sumaila was diagnosed with the disease.
It has not been long that Nigeria has promptly worked towards the end of polio. Until 2012, the nation was a living ground of more than half of the world’s polio cases. But since then, there was no stopping to its mission of being zero polio driven country. Of course, a lot of individual and group efforts contributed to this victory. More than 200,000 people volunteered to vaccinate around 45 million children under the age of 5, in order to make sure no child gets victimized to the dreadful disease. Government involvement, a dedicated civil society and the establishment of Emergency Operations Centers at the national and state levels, each played a crucial role in the triumph.
Now the question is whether Nigeria will be able to carry its ‘polio-free’ tag in the future. Sustenance is the call of the hour and Nigeria has to work towards maintaining equilibrium within its territorial health. If the country has another year without polio cases, the entire African region will be certified polio-free in 2017.