Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.
After a decades-long eradication campaign, health officials declared Africa free of wild poliovirus this week, even as they called for ongoing vigilance against a rare mutation of the virus that still circulates on the continent.
Wild poliovirus, which is usually transmitted through contaminated water, primarily affects children under five years old, causing irreversible paralysis and even death. As recently as 1996, the virus affected 75,000 African children. That was the year health officials launched the ambitious eradication effort, coordinating continent-wide immunization campaigns and closely tracking reported outbreaks, sometimes in hostile settings.