The World Health Organization on Thursday announced Polio has got one step closer to becoming the second human disease to be fully eradicated after smallpox, reported Reuters. On the eve of World Polio Day, the WHO announced type 3 poliovirus has been eradicated worldwide.
The Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication’s Thursday announcement means that currently only wild polio-virus type 1 is circulating globally. Type 2 was declared eradicated in 2015, and type 3 this week as it has been seven years since the last case of type 3 polio was detected, in northern Nigeria.
“[The eradication of type 3 polio] is a significant achievement that should reinvigorate the eradication process and provides motivation for the final step — the eradication of wild poliovirus type 1,” said David Salisbury, chair of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, in a statement.
Notably, since the WHO launched its polio eradication campaign in 1988, the number of polio cases in the world has been cut by more than 99 percent. But the type 1 poliovirus is still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it has infected a total of 88 people this year. The 2019 data is resurgence from a record low global annual figure of 22 cases in 2017. The number was 33 last year.
The director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the global organization remains committed to ensuring all required resources are made available to wipe off the last poliovirus strain.
“The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health,” Ghebreyesus said. “We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved.”
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said eradication of wild polio virus type 3 is a major milestone towards a polio-free world, but, there’s still a long way to go until wild polio virus type 1 is globally eradicated.