A boy wears a cap during a news conference marking the 3-year-polio-free milestone in Abuja. Picture: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Johannesburg – In a historic milestone for the African continent Nigeria is on the brink of declaring the country free of polio after three years of no cases being reported, heralding a dramatic change from 2012 when more than half of the world’s cases were reported in Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Nigeria is the last country in Africa to have witnessed a case of polio - in Borno state, in the north-east. Outside of Nigeria, the last case on the continent was in the Puntland region of Somalia, in 2014, the BBC reported.

However, it will be several months before the country can officially be labelled polio-free following the first step of no cases being reported over a three-year period.

The next step will involve ascertaining that a robust surveillance system is in place to ensure no further cases of the wild polio virus are reported.

Chairman of the Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee of Rotary International, Dr Tunji Funsho, and Emir of Jiwa, HRH Idris Musa, are seen during a news conference marking the 3-year-polio-free milestone in Abuja. Picture: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Nigeria’s achievement in almost eradicating the disease is further remarkable due to insecurity in the north-east of the country as a result of the insurgency being carried out by Boko Haram making it more difficult to get polio under control.

However, authorities attribute their success to their successful fight against the militants as well political and financial support.

In 2018, there was a total of 33 polio cases confined to just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

African News Agency (ANA)