The last wild polio case in Nigeria was reported on July 24 2014 and the last vaccine derived case on May 16 2015 - also the only polio case in 2015. No cases have been reported in 2016. This means that the entire country has seen just one case of polio in 22 months and counting. An achievement to be celebrated, if cautiously. Cautiously because without maintaining a sense of real and ongoig urgency to vaccinate 'every child every time', coverage rates could slip and polio outbreaks emerge among pockets of un- and under-immunised children.
It is in this context that the polio programme continues to remind the government and people of Nigeria that being removed from the endemic list of countries is not the same as being declared polio free. The requirement to go three years without a case of wild polio - for Nigeria, July 2017 - is not arbitrary, it allows time to determine that there are no pockets of hidden virus and that immunity levels have been sustained over time.
Maintaining this level of coverage means polio must remain a priority in the eyes of government, polio workers and parents. As the date of the last case recedes, so does the difficulty of maintaining commitment to continuously high rates of vaccination, increase. This is, in large part, a communication challenge.