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Nigeria is about to interrupt wild polio virus transmission

By Olayinka Latona

NIGERIA is on course for polio eradication. This is the latest verdict by international observers and proponents of the polio eradication drive. Coming a decade after the world’s original deadline for eradicating polio, the remarkable progress shown by Nigeria (and India) in halting spread of the crippling wild polio virus, is giving even some of the anti-polio campaign’s severest doubters hope that it may yet largely achieve its goal.

The developments in Nigeria that are helping drive down the number of polio cases there .According to the World Health Organisation, 56 polio cases worldwide have been registered in 2010 -  75 per cent decrease compared to the same time period in 2009. Interestingly, not a single case of polio has been recorded in Kano, Kano State in the last one year. Traditionally, Kano used to have the highest number of children paralysed with the wild polio virus in Nigeria.

But infection rates have been drastically cut  since the onset of the polio eradication initiative. So far this year, only one case of paralysis has been recorded. This is a major achievement taking into account the presence of surveillance data that indicate that Nigerioa is on the verge of eradicating polio.

Indeed. he global public health system has a lot staked on the polio eradication drive. Since it began 22 years ago, more than 10 billion doses of vaccine have been dispensed and some $8.2 billion spent. Millions of cases of paralysis and death have been prevented by the vaccination campaigns, which have reduced the incidence of polio more than 99 per cent.

Bruce Aylward, director of the WHO’s polio eradication drive said  “We’ve never had so many things looking so positive across so many areas.”  The CDC’s Stephen Cochi said a 75 per cent decline in a year is pretty remarkable and suggests we may be turning the corner.”

However, both men were quick to caution that the hopeful developments could come undone, as they have before, and neither thinks polio can be wiped out before 2012. Aylward also noted that the effort is short of the funding .Its organisers say is needed through 2012 to finish the job.”

He said The goal of polio eradication appears to be more attainable because “better ties with local leaders in Nigeria improved management of health programs and a dash of Bill Gates’s celebrity helped the Muslim north adopt the polio cause. While in India viral detective work and a new focus on neglected areas and migrants have yielded results.

Globally, the number of new polio cases registered so far this year is down to 56 — a 75 per cent drop from the same period last year, the WHO said. “We’ve never had so many things looking so positive across so many areas,” said Dr Bruce Aylward, director of the polio eradication drive for the WHO.


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