Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and founder of the Dangote Group, predicts that Africa will be polio-free before the end of 2020.
The impressive progress in the fight against polio in the last three years shows that the continent could be declared polio-free by April 2020, according to Dangote.
Nigeria, his home country and Africa’s most populous, has not had any wild cases of polio since August 2016, when the last case was recorded in Borno state.
In 2012, 200 children in Nigeria were infected with polio, which can cause paralysis and life-long complications.
This made up more than half of all global cases of polio. In the same year, Dangote joined forces with Bill Gates in an effort to eradicate polio in Nigeria.
President Buhari’s renewed political commitment was evident from 2015 when he was shown personally giving one of his grandchildren vaccine drops while declaring that the government would do all that it can to ensure that no Nigerian child is infected by polio again.
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Nigeria’s progress on polio has not been without setbacks. Having reduced cases to 202 in 2002, there was a spike of 1,122 by 2006 when immunization campaigns in the north of the country had to be suspended following rumors about the safety of the oral polio vaccine.
To reach full polio-free certification, a team of independent experts has to assess surveillance systems across the continent, ensuring no cases are missed and there are no gaps in monitoring.