Nigeria Will Become Polio-Free: Challenges, Successes, and Lessons Learned for the Quest to Eradicate Polio
In 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced polio as the next eradication target. Since then the polio eradication effort has become one of the largest public-private partnerships successfully eliminating polio in all but three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Despite no reported cases in two years in Nigeria, on August 11, 2016, the WHO announced two new wild polio cases had been discovered in Northern Nigeria. While undoubtedly a setback, Nigeria has mobilized its immunization forces and will look to take heed of four key lessons earned during almost three decades of anti-polio efforts: 1) establishing and sustaining trust is critical to the success of eradication campaigns; 2) frequent, independent monitoring and evaluation are key to tracking the progress of an intervention and making modifications; 3) holding all actors accountable is essential to pushing an intervention forward and; and 4) contextualized health initiatives are key in fighting polio and other diseases. These lessons will reinforce a cohesive, multilateral strategy that builds on past successes to secure a polio-free Nigeria.