Angola was declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in December – a public health triumph. It set the stage for a similar declaration in Nigeria, a major landmark in the global battle against this disabling disease.
But while Angolan officials are rightly proud of the declaration, the recent yellow fever outbreak in the southern African country underscores the challenges governments and public health workers face as they seek to expand routine immunisation programmes that save lives.
The problems and barriers to immunisation are well known – as are the solutions. But what has been lacking is the political will to devote the money and manpower needed to make it all work. These hurdles are likely to grow as both Angola and Nigeria, which only recently reaped huge oil windfalls, face drastic belt-tightening in the face of collapsing world energy prices.