The World Health Organisation (WHO) claimed that Africa can earn polio-free certification by the end of 2019 or early 2020 if member states could strengthen medical surveillance and ensure that no polio case was recorded.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, has made this known in her message on Wednesday in Abuja, to mark the World Polio Day.
Moeti, however, warned countries in the region against being complacent until polio is eradicated.
She said: “As a region, our surveillance efforts need to be strengthened. It will be a disaster if we fail to be certified because of poor surveillance performance.
“A number of countries have sub-optimal surveillance in both secured and in secured areas.
“I therefore urge all countries whether they have had a case of polio or not to recommit to strengthening surveillance urgently.
“As late as 2012, the region accounted for more than half of the global polio burden, but polio cases have dropped steadily from 128 cases in 2012 to four cases in 2016 and 0 cases in 2017 and 2018.
“The region has now reached an important milestone towards eradication; it has been more than two years since the last case of wild poliovirus.
“I applaud the excellent efforts of governments, polio eradication partners, communities, parents and health workers in achieving this.
“This is no time however to be complacent. Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks.
“As a region, Africa can only be certified to have eradicated polio if three years have passed without any confirmed wild poliovirus.
“Also if polio surveillance has been maintained at the level required for certification, If no new case is confirmed and surveillance is quickly strengthened, the region can be certified to have eradicated polio by end of 2019 or early 2020.”