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Global Polio Eradication Initiative Not On Track To End Transmission by 2012, Report Says

The latest quarterly report (.pdf) by an independent board that monitors the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), released in mid-October, warned that “unless the program addresses ‘fundamental problems,’ there is a ‘substantial risk’ that stopping polio transmission will not be achieved by end-2012,” AlertNet reports. “‘Important changes in style, commitment and accountability are essential,’ the panel of international health experts said,” according to AlertNet, which adds, “Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan are still classified as ‘polio-endemic,'” and “in Angola, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo, transmission has become re-established for 12 months or more.”

Opinion Pieces Address World Polio Day

Though the number of new polio cases has dropped by 99 percent over the past 20 years, World Polio Day is recognized “because we haven’t done enough yet,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in his blog, “The Gates Notes.” He continues, “The last one percent is the hardest percent, and we have to do even more than we’ve already done if we hope to finish the job on polio. The day the world is declared polio free is the day we can really begin celebrating” (10/21).

UNICEF Warns Of Possible Polio Resurgence In Madagascar Amid Outbreak Involving Three Children

“An outbreak of polio in three children from the south of Madagascar has raised concerns over a possible resurgence of this crippling disease,” BBC News reports, adding, “UNICEF spokesman Daniel Timme says three cases of polio without symptoms have been identified … during UNICEF’s Mother and Child Health week following tests and urine samples” (Healy, 10/22). “Although the children are currently not showing symptoms of polio, [Timme] said symptoms of the disease could make itself known at any time” Examiner.com writes (Herriman, 10/22).

DRC Government, UNICEF Campaign Immunizes 14M Children Against Polio

“Thousands of vaccination teams have traversed the vast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on foot, by motorbike, boat and car, in a campaign to immunize at least 14 million children against polio, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said,” IRIN reports. The campaign, which was run over three days beginning October 20 by the government with support from UNICEF, also provided vitamin A supplements and deworming, IRIN notes.

Commonwealth Government Leaders Pledge Millions Of Additional Funds To Fight Polio

“Commonwealth government leaders meeting in Australia agreed Saturday to step up efforts to eradicate polio worldwide, despite the Afghanistan war setting back vaccination efforts there and in neighboring Pakistan,” the Associated Press reports (10/29). “Leaders from Britain, Canada, Australia and Nigeria, and” representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “on Saturday pledged tens of millions of dollars in extra funding to wipe out the disease” in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — the four countries where polio remains endemic, Reuters states (10/29).

Number Of Polio Cases In Pakistan Exceeds Total Number Reported In Three Other Endemic Countries, Report Says

According to a report published earlier this month in Virology Journal by a team at the bioinformatics laboratory of the Centre for Excellence in Molecular Biology (CEMB) in Lahore, Pakistan, that country is reporting more polio cases than Nigeria, India and Afghanistan — the three other countries where the disease is endemic — combined, SciDev.Net reports. Natural disasters, such as flooding, armed conflict, and poor-quality immunization campaigns have contributed to an increase in cases, according to the report. Elias Durry, senior coordinator for the WHO’s polio eradication effort in Pakistan, said, “WHO is currently monitoring the whole [immunization campaign] and fully supporting Pakistan government as a partner along with organizations like UNICEF,” according to SciDev.Net (Ahmed, 10/28).

Nigeria Plans To Vaccinate 3M Children For Measles, Polio

“Nigeria’s northern Kano state is starting to vaccinate three million children against polio and measles with tight security because of fears of attack by Islamic extremists,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “[T]he vaccinations will be administered at 2,700 community centers — apparently ensuring more protection,” according to Shehu Usman Abubakar,…

Bomb Targeting Polio Workers Kills 2 In Pakistan

“Two people were killed and 13 wounded Monday in a bombing that targeted polio workers in northwest Pakistan, police said,” CNN reports (10/7). “The attack took place on the third and last day of a U.N.-backed vaccination campaign in a suburb of the city of Peshawar, police said, adding that…

CDC Working To Eradicate Polio Amid Partial Government Shutdown

Noting how the U.S. government’s partial shutdown is affecting the CDC — closing eight of 10 global disease detection centers worldwide — Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes in an opinion piece, “Fortunately, the CDC’s polio eradication effort has been largely exempted from the shutdown.” He continues, “It is part…

PBS NewsHour Reports On Pakistan’s Polio Vaccination Campaign Setbacks

PBS NewsHour on Monday aired a video report on setbacks in the polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan, “where there have recently been a series of attacks on those trying to administer vaccines.” Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports the country’s polio campaign began to stall “thanks to epic floods,…