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World Health Organization Declares Africa Polio-Free

Polio has officially declared eradicated from the African continent by the World Health Organization.

Years ago, thousands of children in Africa were paralyzed by the virus.

Polio usually affects children under five, sometimes leading to irreversible paralysis. Death can occur when breathing muscles are affected.

The disease is now only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no cure but the polio vaccine protects children for life.

According to General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International, John Hewko, “Today’s victory over the wild poliovirus in the African region is a testament to what can happen when partners from a variety of sectors join forces to accomplish a major global health goal.”

“[It is] something the world can and should aspire to during these turbulent times.”

For four consecutive years without a reported case and massive efforts to immunize children.

Following the announcement on Tuesday, the WHO Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian philanthropist Aliko Dangote and American billionaire, Bill Gates.

“It is a tremendous victory, a deliverance,” Tunji Funsho of the Nigeria Polio Committee of Rotary International told AFP. “It’s been more than 30 years since we launched this challenge. To say that I am happy is an understatement,” said the Nigerian doctor.

It takes three years without a reported case to obtain WHO approval, but the UN organization preferred to wait four years, “to be 100% sure the disease is completely eradicated.

Polio is an infectious disease that mainly affects children, attacking the spinal cord and potentially causing irreversible paralysis.

It was endemic disease throughout the world until a vaccine was discovered in the 1950s.