Nigeria is on the brink of eliminating polio, thanks to women – NBC News

Amina Anas wanted more information before getting her baby boy vaccinated against polio.

Anas, who lives in a village in northern Nigeria, spoke to other women in the community about her concerns. Ultimately, Aisha Shuaibu Mohammad, a UNICEF-trained volunteer, was able to convince her.

Mohammad is one of hundreds of Nigerian women who have spearheaded the country’s fight against polio by becoming vaccinators.

The women are close to being able to declare victory: Aug. 21 will mark three years since Nigeria’s last case of polio, said Dr. Anis Siddique, UNICEF’s chief of communication for development who led the polio team. In the northern state of Kano, where Anas lives, there hasn’t been a case in five years, Siddique said.

Siddique is cautiously optimistic that the country will receive World Health Organization certification for polio eradication in October — a country must go three years without a case, and the WHO routinely waits two months after the three-year mark to make an official declaration, he said.

This won’t be the first time Nigeria has been declared polio-free. In 2015, the WHO declared that polio had been eliminated, but a 2016 outbreak wiped out the designation.

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