The year 2014 marked the occurrence of the last known case of Polio reported in Africa. This has been quite a milestone to achieve in terms of global health, and the health experts around the world could not help but celebrate the reason.
Africa has been a last stand for a number of diseases in the past, now, including polio. The highly infectious viral disease that affects young children always managed to strike back, particularly in Nigeria, even after a million attempts taken by the health experts to manage the disease.
Soon, Africa decided to follow a new approach to control the disease by recruiting a massive number of “community mobilizers.” As a part of the continent-wide surveillance and vaccination programs, the hired mobilizers were responsible for tracking down unvaccinated children. A number of operations centers were opened across the continent to monitor the progress of the disease in the respective areas, and the tribal chiefs and clerics were asked to pitch in for support.
The result of the continent-wide effort is visible today in the form of the polio-free celebration around the world. The last case of polio was reported in Somalia in August 2014. In the history of African polio, Nigeria has never been free of the virus and a majority of polio outbreaks in the continent had their roots in Nigeria. However, the last African case of polio was detected in Nigeria in July 2014.
However, it is still too soon to say that Africa is actually polio-free. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, Africa cannot be designated as polio-free unless three years are recorded without a single case of polio. Meanwhile, all the countries in the African continent will continue to vaccinate the children, and monitor the progress of the disease until it is completely eradicated.
“This is a big success, but it’s still fragile,” said Dr. Hamid Jafari, from the WHO. “There’s always a worry that there could be an undetected case in a population you’re not reaching.”