“The outstanding commitment and efforts that got Nigeria off the endemic list must continue, to keep Africa polio-free,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “We must now support the efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan so they soon join the polio-free world.”
WHO said that Nigeria has made remarkable progress against polio, but continued vigilance is needed to protect these gains and ensure that polio does not return.
Nigeria has not reported a case of wild poliovirus since 24 July 2014, and all laboratory data has confirmed that a full 12 months have passed without any new cases.
Immunization and surveillance activities must continue to rapidly detect a potential re-introduction or re-emergence of the virus, the agency said, explaining that only after three years have passed without a case of wild poliovirus on the African continent will an official ”certification” of polio eradication be conducted at the regional level in Africa.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the public-private partnership leading the effort to eradicate polio on the planet, called the development a ”historic achievement” in global health.
As recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, according to WHO.
“More than 200,000 volunteers across the country repeatedly immunized more than 45 million children under the age of 5, to ensure that no child would suffer from this paralysing disease,” the agency said.