The last case of  wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) reported in Nigeria was on Aug. 21, 2016 in Borno State. This has prompted Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole to declare recently, “Nigeria will become a polio free country sooner than later”.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

National Primary Health Care Development Agency Executive Director Dr. Faisal Shuaibu said, “This is unprecedented; this is the first time ever in our existence that we have gone two years without a single child being affected by the polio virus.

“This is a huge improvement in our health indices.

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“And if this persists for the next 12 months, then we will have a situation where the World Health Organization will look at all the information that is available, and then begin to consider Nigeria as having eradicated poliomyelitis, once and for all.”

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.