In news that highlights the victory of persistent efforts, World Health Organisation has declared the African continent free of the wild poliovirus.
However it must be noted that the continent is not fully poliomyelitis free as cases of vaccine-derived polio have been reported in 16 African countries.
"Today is a day of celebration, and a day of hope.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) August 25, 2020
Today we come together to rejoice over an historic public health success – the certification of wild poliovirus eradication in the African Region."-@DrTedros #AFRORC70#EndPolio #AfricaKicksOutWildPolio pic.twitter.com/RjUAKm98zq
The important announcement comes as no new cases from wild poliovirus have been reported in Africa for the last four years. This milestone is important as it comes after years of relentless hardwork put out by health care workers. At the peak of its problem, 75,000 children across Africa were affected by polio virus in a single year.
The World Health Organisation reveals this is the second virus that has been eradicated in Africa after smallpox. Nigeria was the last African country to record a poliomyelitis case from the wild form of the virus in 2016.
Overcoming big challenges
Eradicating polio is not an easy task, as it requires immunisation of 90 per cent of children through mass vaccine drives that requires a extensive ground work by health care workers.
Currently the world is facing the Coronavirus pandemic, while Congo is battling Ebola and Health authorities fear the pandemic has disrupted vaccination regime in many African countries, leaving children vulnerable to polio and sparking fears of virus resurgence
India’s Polio challenge
India it recorded its last wild poliovirus case in 2011 and was declared completely polio free in 2014. However India’s neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world that still have the wild form of poliovirus.
With global health bodies striking a major success in Africa can they pull off an encore in India’s neighbourhood and ensure the world is polio-free?