I still recall reporting on January 13, 2012 the one year anniversary of India becoming polio-free, I have to admit, something I thought I would never see when I started my career in laboratory medicine back in the early 1980s.
Just 30 short years ago, India reported 150,000 cases of the crippling viral infection. Now it’s been some 4 1/2 years since polio has been reported in the second most populous country on the planet.
Last Friday, a very similar event occurred that must be noted and praised.
One of the three remaining polio endemic countries, Nigeria, has gone one year without reporting a wild polio case (July 24, 2014).
An amazing feat for a country who saw more than 100 cases just 3 short years ago and is located on a continent which saw an outbreak on the Horn of Africa that tallied in the hundreds in 2013.
However, although the news last week was great, as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) reminds us, it is far from over.
For Nigeria to come off the list of polio-endemic countries, another six weeks are needed for the samples currently in the laboratory to be processed and confirmed to be polio-free, the GPEI notes.
The country must then go two more years without a wild polio case and with very strong surveillance before the World Health Organization’s entire African Region can be certified polio-free. To get there, Nigeria must remain vigilant in improving surveillance and vaccinating all children.
Still, congratulations and encouragement are in order for Nigeria.