It has been a long time coming, but when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declares Africa polio-free, our challenges may only be beginning. We need to sustain the momentum to ensure that the virus is not only eradicated from every continent but that it stays that way forever.
This milestone declaration, which most experts expect in the next couple of years, comes too late for Hadiza, a 1-1/2 year old girl from Gezawa village, in Kano state in Nigeria. Hadiza was attacked and paralyzed by polio virus, crippling both limbs, destroying her capacity to stand, walk and play like normal children. The impact of the virus robbed her of the chance to go to school, and devastated her parents and her community. Hadiza and her family are among the thousands ruined by the crippling virus which is easily preventable but has no cure.