August 11 marked one year since the last wild polio case was detected anywhere on the entire continent of Africa.
Although it does not yet merit an official polio-free certification, the milestone reminds everyone at the United Nations and the Kick Polio Out of Africa Campaign of the important progress toward eradication.
“Globally, we are on the verge of totally eradicating a disease for only the second time in history,” remarked Peter Crowley, the head of the UN Children Fund’s (UNICEF) Polio unit, on his blog. “As we approach the General Assembly’s endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals, what a wonderful time to be able to encourage the global community to set ambitious goals and to know that such goals can be met – if we believe.”
A polio-free Africa would leave only 2 countries where polio transmission is still endemic and uninterrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Polio is a virus transmitted by person-to-person contact and spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by contaminated water or food, and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
(READ more from the UN)