Twenty-seven years ago, polio was rampant in over 60 percent of the world leading to paralysis for several hundreds of children everyday.  By January of this year, there were only 3 countries in the world recording new cases of polio. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but that is changing.  Once considered the locus of new polio diagnoses, Nigeria reported the first year without new cases.  This milestone is especially crucial in light of the impediments the government has faced in trying to eradicate the disease; officials and volunteers have had to deal with Muslim extremists targeting medical workers, rumors about vaccinations being employed as a subterfuge by the government to sterilize Muslims, etc.
As recently as 1995, the most recent report, Nigeria recorded the highest rates of polio in the world; approximately 1000 new cases per year and a little a child was left paralyzed over a year ago by the virus. According to the United Nations Polio Unit’s Oliver Rosenbauer, to be declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) laboratories reports must remain negative for the next few weeks in addition to the absence of new cases. As of July 30, 2015, Pakistan had recorded 28 new cases, a significant reduction in incidences of polio because of the success of the World Health Organization (WHO) 1988 Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
A Polio-free Nigeria is something to look forward by public health officials and international health care organizations. Improved sanitation, access to vaccine, eliminating cultural, social, religious barriers and stereotypes is crucial to fighting the return of polio as a global pandemic. Nigeria is on the way to preventing new polio incidences. However, conflicts in the Northern part of the country and risk to public health officials creates significant challenges to future immunization programs.