Polio is no longer endemic in Nigeria, the World Health Organization announced Friday, leaving Afghanistan and Pakistan as the only two countries that have never gone a year without a new case of polio since health organizations began tackling the worldwide problem.
Nigeria hasn’t recorded a case of polio in fourteen months, which means the disease is no longer considered endemic. But it will take another two years without a diagnosis before Nigeria is considered truly polio-free.
“Today serves not only as confirmation of Nigeria’s progress, but as an affirmation that our end goal is within reach: global polio eradication,” said Carol Pandak, director of PolioPlus at Rotary International in a statement. “And while the end is in sight, polio remains a constant threat until every country is declared free from the debilitating disease.”
Polio is a paralyzing illness that can be spread by poor sanitation and usually affects children. Aside from Afghanistan and Pakistan, every other country in the world has successfully eradicated polio through vaccinations and improved sanitation— in 1988, polio was present in 125 countries.