LAGOS: As Nigeria celebrates news that polio is no longer an endemic in the West African country, Pakistan and its war-battered neighbour Afghanistan remain the only two countries where the disease is prevalent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Nigeria and Africa as a whole are now closer to being certified polio-free. It warned polio remains endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan and that as long as the disease exists anywhere "it's a threat to children everywhere".

Polio which can cause life-long paralysis can be prevented with a simple vaccination.

"It's a great moment for Nigeria," Dr. Tunji Funsho, chairman of Rotary International's anti-polio campaign in Nigeria, told The Associated Press. "We should celebrate but with a caveat that we should not let our guard down." He attributed the success to teamwork between government and non-governmental health organisations.

Nigeria's main goal now is maintain vigilance to make sure that Nigeria has no new polio cases in the next two years so that the WHO can declare Nigeria a polio-free country, Dr. Funsho said. "Until that happens we are not out of the woods yet," he said.

Once stigmatised as the world's polio epicentre, Nigeria in late July celebrated its first year with no reported case of the crippling disease, having overcome obstacles ranging from religious extremists who assassinated vaccinators to rumours the vaccine was a plot to sterilise Muslims.

Just 20 years ago this West African nation was recording 1,000 polio cases a year ─ the highest in the world.

The last recorded case of a child paralysed by the wild polio virus endemic in Nigeria's impoverished and mainly Muslim north was on July 24, 2014.

Also read: Bill Gates lauds Pakistan's efforts to eradicate polio

Opinion

Editorial

Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...
1971 in retrospect
Updated 28 Nov, 2022

1971 in retrospect

The point of no return came when the military launched Operation Searchlight in March 1971.
Gender-based violence
28 Nov, 2022

Gender-based violence

IT is a war without boundaries and seemingly without end. A UN report on femicide released on Nov 25, the...
Battle against dacoits
28 Nov, 2022

Battle against dacoits

THE Punjab police is clearly fighting a formidable, and so far losing, battle against the criminal gangs based in ...