In what is inarguably one of the most significant public health victories of our time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that Africa is now free of the wild poliovirus.
This is no accident.
Such a significant achievement is the effectual result of intense efforts and mutual collaborations between African governments, the World Health Organisation, non-profit organisations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; who have provided financial and training support needed for the most important stakeholders – our frontline workers. These brave men and women go town to town, village to village and door to door across the continent; enduring harsh conditions and battling fears and stereotype to ensure each child is vaccinated and no child is left behind. Our deepest thanks must go to them. As a result of this collective micro- and macro-efforts, the last case of the wild poliovirus was recorded in 2016.
This news also brings great hope, as governments around the world continue to grapple with Covid-19 and its severe effects on public health and the economies.
This success should not only hearten but also encourage us. It demonstrates that – with similar, intentional collaboration by stakeholders and a firm commitment to ensuring equitable access, especially in Africa, to the Covid-19 vaccine by world leaders – this pandemic too will be surmounted.
Dr A.V. Elumelu is a medical doctor, the Founder / CEO of Avon Medical Practice, a multi-speciality network of hospitals in Nigeria, and the Gavi Private Sector Champion for Immunisation in Africa.