In 2012, Nigeria accounted for half of the world’s cases of polio, a virus that has killed and crippled tens of millions of children throughout the world. Now, the country hasn’t seen a new case in more than a year.
In the 1980s, polio still claimed hundreds of thousands of children in more than 100 countries. But now, with this great news from Nigeria, the end of the disease is in sight. The World Health Organization says a handful of cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan represent polio’s last redoubt, and a global coalition has stepped up efforts to eradicate the disease there.
Three years ago, Nigerian government officials, religious leaders, and health workers — and 200,000-plus volunteers — immunized more than 45 million children. That stopped the disease in its tracks.
“We Nigerians are proud today. With local innovation and national persistence, we have beaten polio,” said Dr. Ado Muhammad, the executive director of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
Community involvement was crucial. So was support from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which leveraged support from government agencies like the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, and private organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together they demonstrated the power of partnerships to solve global health crises.
Even if no new cases appear in Nigeria, the fight is not yet over. “We know our vigilance and efforts must continue in order to keep Nigeria polio-free,” Muhammad said.
It’s not just polio — immunizations keep kids healthy and save lives around the world.