By Prudence Arobani
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stressed the need to redouble efforts to eradicate the polio disease in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
WHO stated this in a statement to mark the 2017 World Polio Day.
“In 2017, so far, 12 cases of polio have been reported in just two countries.
“Today, only three endemic countries remain, which have never stopped polio: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
“Even within these countries, the virus is cornered into fewer districts than ever before,” the world health agency said.
It said in 1988 when WHO became part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, polio paralysed 10 children for life every 15 minutes, in nearly every country in the world.
“However, eradicating polio is hard and complicated.
“It requires committed, hardworking frontline healthcare workers to deliver doses of the oral polio vaccine to every single child, multiple times, so that they develop full immunity.
“Once no children remain under-immunised, the virus will die out and the world will be free of polio,” WHO said.
World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.
As of 2013, GPEI had reduced polio worldwide by 99 per cent.
“Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines.
“Polio can be prevented through immunisation. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life.
“The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunising every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free,” WHO said.