By Aisha Tamba
The World Health Organization African Region has on Tuesday officially announced its certification as having eradicated wild poliovirus.
The success of African countries in eradicating wild poliovirus shows the world what is possible with strong commitment, coordination and ingenuity.
Over the last two decades, countries across the WHO African Region have worked together to effectively respond to and stop polio outbreaks, providing important lessons for other health initiatives.
Recognizing high levels of population movement and polio’s ability to travel quickly, the program has worked with countries to rapidly mobilize complex emergency outbreak responses, including numerous multi-country synchronized campaigns across the continent. In 2000, Africa’s first synchronized multi-country campaigns took place in 17 countries across
West and Central Africa, with tens of thousands of volunteers reaching 76 million children, 2 million of whom had never been vaccinated.
In 2004, following an outbreak of wild polio in Nigeria as a result of vaccine boycott in Kano and other states in northern Nigeria, synchronized multi-country campaigns were launched in 23 countries across sub-Saharan Africa reaching 80 million children.
From 2008-2010, during a large-scale wild poliovirus outbreak that affected 24 countries in West and Central Africa, countries banded together to plan and implement a new approach to build an immunity barrier across the entire region. Synchronized, multi-country vaccination campaigns across 19 countries in 2010 reached up to 85 million children.
According to officials, this milestone is an incredible public health achievement for the continent and a huge step forward on the road to global polio eradication.