Africa advances toward a polio-free continent

August 2015

11 August 2015 marks 1 year since the last wild polio case was detected on the entire African continent. A polio-free Africa would leave only 2 countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

WHO/L. Dore

In the Horn of Africa, no wild polio cases have been reported since the last case in central Somalia on 11 August 2014. Although it is not yet an official milestone on the path to polio-free certification, today marks one year since the last wild polio case was detected on the entire African continent, signaling important progress toward eradication.

Nigeria, the last endemic country in the African region, marked one year without a case of wild polio on 24 July 2015. If continued lab results in the coming weeks confirm no new cases in Nigeria, and if the WHO African Region then goes 2 more years without a case of wild polio in the face of strong surveillance, it could be certified polio-free by the Africa Regional Certification Commission.

In a Horn of Africa outbreak assessment completed in June 2015, an assessment team concluded that transmission in Kenya and Ethiopia has also been interrupted. Undetected low level transmission in Somalia cannot be ruled out, the team concluded, and outbreak response activities are continuing throughout the country.

A polio-free Africa would leave only 2 countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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