October 2, 2020: Polio, a widely known disease was considered as an epidemic until the vaccine was found in the 1950s. Even after the vaccine was found, it remained quite unapproachable for several countries that were poor i.e in Africa and Asia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) will most probably certify a Polio Free Africa on the coming Tuesday that the African continent is finally done and over from the devastating disease “Polio”. It has been four years since the last polio case was reported in northeastern Nigeria.
Polio, which is also known as poliomyelitis is a disease that is infectious and also contagious which attacks our spinal cord directly and causes an irreversible paralysis in children. It later becomes untreatable.
According to the World Health Organization, they reported approximately 350,000 cases globally in the year 1988. Furthermore, by the year 1996, the WHO reported approximately 70,000 cases in Africa alone. Nigeria was a country having almost 200 million inhabitants and the World Health Organization labeled it as a ‘trouble-spot’ in the early 2000s. Nigeria is a Muslim-majority area and due to many factors, authorities were forced to stop any vaccination campaigns they were running. It was in 2003 and 2004 and the militants claimed that these vaccine campaigns were a conspiracy to sterilize young Muslims. Convincing people and religious leaders that the Polio vaccine was safe was a big task back then, which seemed quite impossible.
After all the efforts done to make a Polio Free Africa, it is still a challenge to ensure that no new polio cases emerge from Afghanistan or Pakistan. Furthermore, authorities are making sure that vaccinations continue to ensure children across the continent are protected from this vicious disease.
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Javeria Adil Chughtai
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