Just last September, the World Health Organization removed Nigeria
from the list of polio-endemic countries, and what great news that was! But unfortunately, the story has changed.
WHO’s declaration was especially great because in 2012 Nigeria accounted for MORE THAN HALF of all polio cases worldwide!
The government activated an emergency response in 2012 to eradicate polio.
Imagine our reaction when WHO declared there had been zero cases of the polio virus in Nigeria since July 2014.
Only 49 cases were reported in 2013 down from 102 in 2012.
This week, in an unfortunate turn of events, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, confirmed two cases of the virus in Borno State.
Polio has always been prevalent in Northern Nigeria compared to other regions.
Nigeria is the only African country still harbouring the polio virus. In July, Nigeria celebrated 2 years without a new case.
UNICEF says the two new cases mean children across the Lake Chad region are now at particular risk.
Polio mainly affects children under the age of 5.
The new cases found in Borno could very well be as a result of the Nigerian Army’s efforts to liberate Boko Haram captives.
The Nigerian Army has relentlessly invaded Boko Haram hideouts and freed captives.
WHO and other health agencies could not access some parts of Northern Nigeria due to the Boko Haram conflict.
Babies born into conflict are not likely to be vaccinated, increasing the risk of them getting the virus.
There have been accusations against the government’s treatment of IDPs, although it’s not clear if the new cases are from an IDP camp.
Health facilities are limited and do not serve the millions of IDPs.
Although the government seems to be springing into action quickly to eradicate polio once and for all.
We are hopeful Nigeria and Africa will finally be declared polio-free soon!
A country is declared free if there aren’t new cases for 3 years.