The World Health Organization has confirmed two cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in Nigeria, the first cases in the country since July 2014. After passing a year without a case of the wild poliovirus, Nigeria was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in September 2015. These cases – from two local government areas of Borno state – occurred in July 2016.
The Government of Nigeria – in partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – will take immediate steps to respond quickly to the outbreak to prevent further spread of the disease. This response will include emergency vaccination campaigns to boost immunity in impacted and at-risk areas, and reinforced surveillance activities to ensure we detect all strains of polio. Because polio knows no borders, steps will also be taken to protect surrounding countries, to ensure all children are vaccinated and to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease.
This news is disappointing for all Rotary members – and particularly those in Nigeria – who worked so hard to help the country stop polio. However, Rotary remains steadfast and fully committed to fighting polio anywhere children remain at risk, including Nigeria and Africa.
Rotary members remain resilient in the face of challenges. Today, we roll up our sleeves and redouble our effort to rid the world of this devastating disease. Rotary members in Nigeria are already hard at work to support the outbreak response, and our network will also be tapped to quickly protect children in surrounding countries.
The World Health Organization is confident Nigeria can end polio. The program has overcome outbreaks before, and we have the tools to do so again in Nigeria. Rotary will not stop its efforts to ensure that every child is born into a polio-free world where they are safe from this paralyzing disease.
Michael K. McGovern
Chair, International PolioPlus Committee