Polio re-emerges in Nigeria as two children in the northern Borno state have been paralyzed by the disease, the first incident after the country was cleared out of the disease in 2014. The Nigerian government, with the help of the World Health Organization and Global Polio Eradication Initiative team, is currently conducting large-scale immunization and boosting surveillance systems to prevent more children from getting polio.
Neighboring nations are also advised to conduct the same preventive steps. The new cases are linked to a wild poliovirus strain, which was last seen in Borno in 2011, genetic sequencing reveals.
Despite the re-emergence of polio in the country, health experts are optimistic that Nigeria will soon return to its polio-free status. All they need is to focus on inaccessible areas such as the Lake Chad region. Reaching out to individuals in the area has always been difficult due to conflict and large population movements.
“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,” says Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication at WHO Headquarters. “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.”
The press release states that half of all polio cases worldwide were in Nigeria in 2012. However, due to the efforts exerted by health workers, the Nigerian government and even religious leaders, the country has not seen polio cases for two years.
Overall, countries around the globe are almost close to achieving the goal of eliminating polio once and for all. As of 2016, only 21 wild polio cases were diagnosed, lower than the 34 cases reported in 2015. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last two countries where polio remains persistent.