Nigeria three years free from wild poliovirus

A milestone in an ongoing journey to achieve global polio eradication


Nigeria has been free of wild poliovirus for three years thanks to hardworking health workers and parents. © WHO
Nigeria has been free of wild poliovirus for three years thanks to hardworking health workers and parents. © WHO

21 August  2019 marks three years since Nigeria last reported a case of wild poliovirus. This is an important public health milestone for the country and the entire Africa Region, which is now a step now closer to polio-free certification.

At the press conference in Abuja, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, acknowledged that the three-year mark is an important moment in the fight against polio but also emphasized the need for vigilance  ̶ “one which we must delicately manage with cautious euphoria.”

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

Innovation, partnership and resolve have all underpinned advancements made in Nigeria, together with the commitment of tens of thousands of health workers. “Since the last outbreak of wild polio in 2016 in the northeast, Nigeria has strengthened supplementary immunization activities and routine immunization, implemented innovative strategies to vaccinate hard-to-reach children and improved acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance. These efforts are all highly commendable,” said WHO’s Officer in Charge for Nigeria, Dr Peter Clement.

However, despite progress, there is still much left to be done. Continued work to reach every last child with the polio vaccine, as well as strengthening surveillance and routine immunization across the region, will be key to keeping wild polio at bay and protecting the gains achieved.

Should there be no more cases in Nigeria or from countries in the Africa Region, and surveillance data submitted by countries meets evaluation criteria, the Africa Regional Certification Committee (ARCC) could certify the Region as wild polio-free as early as mid-2020.

The press briefing was attended by country representatives of all GPEI partners: WHO, UNICEF, CDC, Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as well as USAID, Government of Germany, EU and Canada. The Emir of Jiwa, representing the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee was also in attendance.

Read the press release.

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