Today, on what would have marked two years without a single reported case of wild polio virus on the continent of Africa, the government of Nigeria announced that two cases have been identified in the country, resulting in the paralysis of two children.
The news is an important reminder that while cases of polio have been reduced by over 99.9% since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) began its work in 1988, the fight against polio will not be won until every last child is reached with the polio vaccine. To this end, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, along with the other partner organizations of the GPEI, country governments, and health workers, will urgently respond with large-scale immunization campaigns and strengthen disease surveillance systems so that any instance of the virus can be detected as early as possible.
In a press release, Dr. Michel Zaffran, WHO’s Director of Polio Eradication, said: “We are confident that with a swift response and strong collaboration with the Nigerian Government, we can soon rid the country of polio once and for all. This is an important reminder that the world cannot afford to be complacent as we are on the brink of polio eradication – we will only be done when the entire world has been certified polio-free.”
Now more than ever, it is crucial that health workers, country governments, organizations, donors, and global health advocates around the world come together to finish the job and end polio for good. To find out how you can get involved, visit www.shotatlife.org and www.endpolio.org.