Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 9, 24 August 2019

Africa to be Polio Free
Sukanya Bali

In the news

In a WHO ministerial meeting on Wednesday, the regional director on Africa said that Nigeria will soon be certified as wild-polio-free. The region has completed its 3 years free from endemic polio and if no-cases are further registered in the next 6 months in Nigeria, the entire African continent will become free from polio virus.  

Issues at large

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria were the last countries identified under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, out of which Nigeria is on the verge of being free from polio virus.

The continent is prone to outbreaks, which is a result of ill-effects of governance and lack of coordination among organisations in providing proper health care facilities for the people. The reported cases of endemic diseases could be substantially less than the actual, as it may affect the nation's travel, tourism, and foreign investments.

In 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of the world’s polio cases. The lack of immunization programs, awareness camps and investment in public health care facilities has created a vacuum between government and people. However, in the last 3 years, restoring people’s trust in medical facilities has been a major concern and outreach strategy for health care services.

In perspective

The certification would guarantee, Africa to be wild-polio-virus free. It would join four of the other WHO regions- Europe, America, Western-Pacific and South East Asia, that are polio-free. The significant milestone set by the African government in achieving a polio-free nation should further encourage them to fight the prevailing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

African countries should focus on enriching facilities of public-health-emergency and surveillance to track down the virus’ spreading in the region. Heavy investments and vigilante governance, is necessary to fight against diseases around the world. Social stigma, lack of awareness and poor governance, often hinder states from prospering in its public health.

In the several months ahead, Africa should keep a strict check on its population to be officially labeled as a polio-free region but greater is the responsibility of the government to prevent a relapse of wild polio.

Sukanya Bali is a Research Consultant at International Strategic and Security Studies Program, National Institute of Advanced Studies. She can be reached at sukanya9494@gmail.com

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