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Wall Street Journal Examines Potential Implications Of Allegedly Fake U.S. Vaccination Campaign In Pakistan

The Wall Street Journal reports on how “a reportedly fake vaccination campaign conducted [by the U.S.] to help hunt down Osama bin Laden has caused a backlash against international health workers in some parts of Pakistan and has impeded efforts to wipe out polio in the country,” one of only four worldwide where polio remains endemic. The article quotes a UNICEF country representative, a U.S. Embassy official, a Muslim cleric, a non-governmental organization representative, a local health care worker, and an official with a provincial health department (Tohid, 12/3).

WHO African Region Member States Have Challenges To Meet MDGs, WHO/AFRO Director Says

Speaking at the 61st session of the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, on Thursday, African Regional Director of WHO Luis Sambo said “that 46 Africa member countries still had remarkable challenges to scale before meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Nigeria’s The Nation reports.

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).

GPEI Must ‘Take Seriously’ Recommendations In Independent Monitoring Board Report

In this post in the “Health Affairs Blog,” diplomacy and global health consultant Judith Kaufmann writes about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Independent Monitoring Board quarterly report released last week, stating, “What is really new about this report … is that it does not, as so many GPEI reports have…

Countries Need Vigilance, Informed Media Coverage To Achieve Polio Eradication

In this SciDev.Net editorial, T.V. Padma, regional coordinator for South Asia for the news service, recaps findings from the latest report of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), released last week, and writes, “Polio control in developing countries has received massive international support and funding, including free supplies of vaccines. Yet transmission of the virus remains. Clearly, there are problems other than funds.”

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).

Not Too Early To Consider Funding For, Distribution Of Malaria Vaccine

In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, notes some of the parallels between the development of RTS,S, the experimental malaria vaccine currently being tested in Africa, and the polio vaccine, but he says “there are also some particularly disappointing ways in which the polio and malaria efforts could differ.”

Angolan Health Officials On High Alert After Polio Case Confirmed

Health officials in the northern Angolan province of Uige are on high alert “after a 14-month-old boy tested positive for polio, which has made a resurgence in the country, UNICEF said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/3). “After eliminating new polio cases for three years in succession following its 27-year civil war, Angola saw a strain of the crippling virus reappear in 2005,” the news service adds.

Reform Necessary To Overcome Challenges To Polio Eradication Efforts In Pakistan

In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile and the recently launched Sania Nishtar Health Fund, writes that “[a]fter 23 years of commencing the World Health Organisation-led Global Polio Eradication initiative, billions of dollars in investment, mobilization of 20 million health workers and a population wide intervention in 125 countries, vaccinating more than two billion children, there are only four countries in the world which continue to harbor the disease,” and Pakistan is “a living threat to the global goal of eradicating a disease for the second time from the face of this planet.”

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