Polio Free Continent

After decades-long Wait, Authorities Declare Africa As Polio Free Continent

As the whole world grapples with coronavirus pandemic, Africa has succeeded to eradicate wild polio from its region. An independent body, the Africa Regional Certification Commission has announced the continent free of polio. With the milestone achievement, Polio has become the second disease ever, which has been eliminated globally after Smallpox. The last polio case was reported in Nigeria four years ago and since then there has been no case of wild polio across the continent. The World Health Organization regional director for Africa has said that it has been a milestone achievement for Africa. This has been good news for the future generations of African children who will lead a Polio free life from now onwards.

Even though after decades of efforts, Africa has been free of wild poliovirus, however, cases of vaccine-derived polio cases are still on the rise in more than a dozen countries. It can be a worrying factor in the future. Vaccine derived poliovirus is a rare mutated form of the weakened but live virus contained in the oral polio vaccine. This form of the virus can transmit among under-immunized populations and later can turn into a form, which can induce paralysis. A mutated form of the virus can cause crippling outbreaks. Authorities have ensured to keep up the vaccination rates high to avert the resurgence of the disease. They need to address the threat of vaccine-linked virus as well.

Polio usually affects kids who are under 5 years of age group. It can lead to permanent paralysis as well. There was a time when the disease paralyzed almost 75000 children in a year across the African region. At present, the disease is only found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has been clinically proven that there is no cure but the polio vaccine can prevent the disease. More than 95 percent of the African population has been immunized so far. This has been one of the prime conditions for declaring Africa polio-free. Nonetheless, 177 cases of the mutated virus as well have been reported this year. Health authorities need to keep a close watch on such incidents as well to remain polio-free.

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