Africa celebrates one year without polio
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the most recent case of Polio in Somalia, signifying the longest recorded period without new cases of the disease.
Although this is a major step in the eradication of polio, it is not the end mark, says UNICEF.
Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF's chief for Somalia, says, "We have had no new cases for a year despite all the challenges in the country. We never want to see another Somali child being paralysed by this preventable virus. That means we need to continue to support the vaccination campaigns to ensure polio is completely eradicated."
Support for vaccination services is crucial, as is consistently spreading awareness about the preventable, yet crippling disease.
With African countries on the right track, the only two countries left to tackle are Pakistan and Afghanistan, where new cases of polio have still been recorded in recent years.
It only takes one case of polio to initiate an epidemic as the disease is not curable.
Facts about polio:
Since 1988, when it was endemic in 125 countries, cases of polio have been reduced by 99%.
Poliomyelitis is caused by a virus which attacks the central nervous system resulting in severe paralysis and often death. Children under five years of age are most susceptible.
Economic modelling predicts that eradicating polio could save around $40-$50 billion dollars in low-income countries over the next 20 years.
Cover image: Flickr