Rotary International and its global partners continue to struggle somewhat this year in their effort to contain the spread of the wild polio virus. As of the week of August 22, 2019 there have been 66 cases of polio reported globally, an increase of 10 in the last month.  Thirteen cases have been reported in Afghanistan with the remaining 53 cases in Pakistan.  As long as there are any cases of the wild polio virus being reported we cannot let up on our efforts to eradicate this horrible disease.  There is some good news however.
Nigeria marked three years since the last case of wild poliovirus (WPV) was detected within its borders. Because Nigeria is the last polio-endemic country in Africa, this milestone opens the door for the potential WPV-free certification of the entire WHO AFRO region after the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) evaluation as early as mid-2020. While this is an important program milestone, the region has not yet been certified polio-free and it will be critical for the polio eradication program to maintain momentum.
This achievement would certainly not have been possible without the novel strategies adopted in the consistent fight against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases. We commend the strong domestic and global financing and the commitment of government at all levels.”
Since the last outbreak of wild polio in 2016 in the northeast, Nigeria has strengthened supplementary immunization activities and routine immunization, implemented innovative strategies to vaccinate hard-to-reach children and improved acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance. These efforts are all highly commendable.
Despite the significant progress, ending all forms of polio across the region remains an unfinished success story. Low immunization rates pose a major risk to other forms of polio virus outbreaks; furthermore, inaccessibility to some children pose as a major threat to sustaining recent gains.
It is important to note that following the Nigeria three-year mark, the Africa Regional Commission for Certification of Polio Eradication (ARCC) will begin a rigorous process to confirm if each country in the region is wild polio-free. Nigeria will submit its final country data for evaluation in March 2020, provided there are no new wild polio cases. If the data confirms zero cases, the entire WHO AFRO region may receive wild polio-free certification as soon as mid-2020, leaving only one region out of six around the world (the Eastern Mediterranean region) where wild polio virus still exists.