Nigeria reclassified as polio endemic

Nigeria reported three cases of wild poliovirus in the northeastern state of Borno in August of this year. Following the World Health Organization's confirmation of these cases, the country returned to the list of polio-endemic countries. The other polio-endemic countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These are the first cases detected in the country since July 2014, and while this news is disappointing for all Rotary members, we are confident that Nigeria can defeat polio. Rotary provided $500,000 to assist immediately with the outbreak response, and an emergency response plan has been put into action in coordination with our partners. Large-scale vaccination campaigns are ongoing across five countries in the Lake Chad basin to counter the outbreak.

Despite these new cases, there has been significant progress toward ending polio in Nigeria, the rest of the African continent, and globally.

As recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases in the world; however, thanks to quality vaccination campaigns and surveillance, as well as political commitment, the country has made significant progress. Furthermore, the new cases were detected due to ongoing efforts to strengthen surveillance, especially in insecure areas.

We have proven strategies to stop new outbreaks quickly, even in insecure regions or areas made vulnerable by conflict, such as South Sudan and Syria. These strategies will also overcome the outbreak in Nigeria.

Rotary is committed to the eradication of polio, and we will continue to support our members, particularly those in Nigeria who have worked so hard to help the country end polio. With your help, we can ensure that there is no remaining home for the virus.

Michael K. McGovern, International PolioPlus Chair