Towards a polio-free Africa

The eradication of wildpolio virus remains one of the most pressing health challenges in Africa.

The continent witnessed the majority of global polio cases in 2013, and is home to one of the three last countries in the world where polio is still endemic, Nigeria. Polio is highly contagious and one of the most difficult diseases to eradicate. About 90 per cent of all children in any given community must receive multiple immunizations to wipe out the virus. No other global health effort in history has posed such a logistical challenge.

Eradicating polio through the strengthening of community access to health service: reaching every last child

Polio immunization needs to be an integral part of the broader health service delivery system. In addition to responding to outbreaks, the Red Cross Red Crescent is increasingly investing towards bringing a combination of services, including routine vaccinations, to people’s doorsteps. This will bridge the health divide for people with little or no access to health care and information.  Our volunteers are working at the grassroots level to encourage vaccination uptake through the provision of information, referral to vaccination facilities and, in some cases, by providing logistical and human resources support for immunization campaigns. Accurate data is the foundation for informed decision-making, particularly when dealing with health issues in complex settings. Volunteers play an important role in monitoring vaccine coverage by gathering data in real-time, enabling analysis which contributes to making decisions at the right time.

The IFRC is convinced that greater access to essential life-saving, culturally acceptable healthcare services through community-led engagement will ensure the spread of polio is halted.

  • South Sudan: Innovative monitoring support
  • When the wild polio virus returned to neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in 2013, the South Sudanese Ministry of Health recognized that the virus could potentially spread to South Sudan.
  • Kenya video
  • Although Africa has gone eight months without any new cases of wild polio for the first time, the continent has witnessed the majority of global polio cases in 2013.