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WHO’s certification body declares Nigeria polio free

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THREE decades after battling poliomyelitis, also known as polio, Nigeria has been certified free of the virus disease, Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has said.

Shuaibu shared this in a tweet on Thursday, revealing that the polio-eradication documentation submitted under by the NPHCDA team was accepted by the African Regional Certification Committee (ARCC).

The Africa Regional Commission for Certification of poliomyelitis eradication (ARCC) is an independent body appointed in 1998 by the WHO Regional Director for African to oversee the certification and containment process. It is the only body that can certify that the Africa region is free of polio.

“Amazing moment in history to have had our polio-eradication documentation accepted by the African Regional Certification Committee (ARCC),” Shuaib said on Twitter.

“The Nigeria team led by NPHCDA and partners demonstrated evidence of our polio-free status,” his tweet read in part.”

The new status of the country is to be officially announced in July, he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had announced that the polio virus is no longer endemic in Nigeria, after the country did not record a single case of wild polio in three years.

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A dramatic leap from its status in 2012, when Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide, according to WHO.

“The outstanding commitment and efforts that got Nigeria off the endemic list must continue, to keep Africa polio-free,” said Margaret Chan, former WHO Director-General.

Polio, a highly infectious disease caused by a virus, mainly affects children aged under five. Research has shown that one in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis and among those paralysed, 5-10 percent  die when their breathing muscles become disabled.

Currently, only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, still have endemic transmission of polio, according to WHO and as recent as 2015, still recorded a collective 41 cases of the virus.

 

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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