Nigeria’s efforts towards having a standard health system received a major boost after the World Health Organization (WHO) Independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication declared Nigeria alongside other African countries free of the wild poliovirus. The last time a wild poliovirus case was detected in Nigeria is 2016. Efforts towards the eradication of polio in Africa since 1996 have aided in the prevention of 1.8 million children from crippling life-long paralysis, and have secured about 180,000 lives.
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Reacting to the development, Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, the Chairperson of ARCC described the feat as historic while also noting that Africa has done enough to meet the certification criteria for the eradication of polio since no single case has been reported in the continent for four years now.
“Today is a historic day for Africa. The African Regional Certification Commission for Polio eradication (ARCC) is pleased to announce that the Region has successfully met the certification criteria for wild polio eradication, with no cases of the wild poliovirus reported in the Region for four years. The ARCC’s decision comes after an exhaustive, decades-long process of documentation and analysis of polio surveillance, immunization and laboratory capacity of the region’s 47 member states, which included conducting field verification visits to each country.”
Prof. Rose Gana Fomban Leke
It will be recalled that in 1996, African leaders during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Organization of African Unity in Yaoundé, Cameroon, committed to eradicating polio in the continent. During this period, the virus was estimated to be paralysing 75,000 children on an annual basis in Africa. Late South African leader, Nelson Mandela (in 1996) in an effort to promote the fight against polio, launched the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign with the support of Rotary International.
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Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, described the polio-free status of Africa as a ‘momentous milestone,’ also noting that Africa’s future generation can now enjoy the assurance of freedom from the wild poliovirus. Commenting further, the health expert pointed out that the expertise garnered in the fight and eventual victory over polio will help in the combat against coronavirus and other health challenges confronting the continent. Also, Moeti thanked all stakeholders responsible for the success of the fight against the virus, some of whom lost their lives, and encouraged the need to stay vigilant and remain consistent with vaccines to avert any possible resurgence of the virus.
“This historic achievement was only possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of governments, communities, global polio eradication partners and philanthropists. I pay special tribute to the frontline health workers and vaccinators, some of whom lost their lives, for this noble cause.”
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti
Featured Image Source: The Guardian NG
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