Health officials have declared Africa free from the wild polio virus after decades of efforts. This has been esteemed as a major step in the campaign to eradicate the crippling viral disease globally.
The foregoing historic announcement by the African Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication which was made on Tuesday during a World Health Organization (WHO) event came four years after the continent’s last case was reported in northern Nigeria.
The commission which is an independent body confirmed that all 47 countries in the WHO’s Africa region have eradicated the disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within some hours.
The news was hailed by health experts and have again called for continued vigilance over the still-existing threat posed by polio vaccine-derived outbreaks in more than a dozen countries.
“This is one of the greatest achievements in public health history,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in an opinion piece.
“Delivering polio vaccines to every child in the African region and wiping out the wild virus is no small feat, and the human resources, skills and experience gained in the process leave behind a legacy in how to tackle diseases and reach the poorest and most marginalised communities with lifesaving services,” Tedros and Holger Knaack, president of Rotary International, wrote.