ARCC: Africa Declared Polio-Free

August 26, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, medical science has brought a little ray of sunlight: Africa is free of wild polio.

The good news was announced on Tuesday, 25 August, by the African Regional Certification Commission (ARCC), and marks a huge milestone after no new cases had been identified in the past four years.

An immunisation and monitoring campaign – in coordination with several organisations, including the ARCC – ensured the water-borne infection was eventually eliminated – for the second time, just after the elimination of smallpox four decades ago.

Previously, polio paralysed 75 000 children each year across the African continent. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that poor monitoring across those countries means isolated cases of wild polo might still remain a possibility.

The WHO indicates that other African nations – Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti – are counted as part of the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Dr Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary International’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, said: “The success in eliminating the wild poliovirus through the WHO African region is proof that with strong commitment, coordination and perseverance, polio eradication is possible.”