End Polio update July 2015

Nigeria on the brink of becoming polio-free

Show related pages

Nigeria on the brink of becoming polio-free

Nigeria has gone almost one year — longer than ever before — without a case of wild poliovirus. The last case was reported on 24 July 2014 in Kano state. Once the gateway to polio in Africa, Nigeria is paving the way to eradicating the disease on the continent.

But reaching the milestone is only one step on the final road to ending polio and it is too soon to celebrate victory. Until polio is eliminated everywhere, it can return to Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Less than a decade ago, in 2006, polio paralyzed 1,000 people in Nigeria.

For the African region to be certified polio-free, including Nigeria, there must be no polio cases for two more years. To do this, all children in Nigeria and throughout Africa — including those in hard-to-reach and underserved areas — must continue to be protected against the disease. 

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that the routine immunization infrastructure is established to increase and sustain the level of herd immunity” [protection for people who are not immune that occurs when a large percentage of the population has been vaccinated], says Tunji Funsho, chair of the Nigeria PolioPlus Committee. This will enable children to “continue to be immunized on schedule and protected from the virus even after the cessation of IPDs [Immunization Plus Days].” 

Once all surveillance data is processed, Nigeria will be poised to be taken off the list of polio-endemic countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) in September. That achievement would leave only two polio-endemic countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2014, Pakistan accounted for 85 percent of the world’s polio cases. As of 17 June, polio cases in Pakistan had decreased by nearly 70 percent.

“With Rotary, we made tremendous progress last year,” said Hamid Jafari, WHO’s Director for Global Polio Eradication and Research, speaking to attendees at the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, in June. “We must keep going to end polio. If the world’s commitment to polio eradication remains strong, we will soon see a polio-free world.”