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Nigerian Leaders Sign Onto Gates Immunization Challenge

“Nigeria’s 36 Executive Governors and the Federal Capital Territory have signed up to the Nigeria Immunization Challenge launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year,” a Gates Foundation press release states. “The Nigeria Immunization Challenge sets specific objectives that need to be met during each quarter of 2012. If met, Nigeria will significantly improve its chances of stopping polio and protecting more children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough,” the release adds, noting, “As of December 30, 2011, 51 cases of wild poliovirus had been reported in eight Nigerian states” (1/5).

India’s Successful Polio Vaccination Campaign Could Bring First Disease-Free Year

“In India, a mass vaccination campaign involving more than a million volunteers reduced cases nationally by 94 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 741 to 42, and down to the single case last year,” the Guardian reports, adding, “If in India as a whole there are no more confirmed cases before 13 January, the country will have completed its first year without a new victim. And if polio is gone from India, the only countries where the disease is still endemic would be Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

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).

Number Of Annual Polio Cases In Nigeria Quadruples; WHO, Government Working To Vaccinate Millions Of Children

Nigeria has reported 43 cases of polio so far this year, up from 11 cases in 2010, and the disease has spread to Niger, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire, according to a WHO official, BBC News reports. “Polio was affecting eight northern Nigerian states — two more than a few months ago, the head of Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA), Dr. Ado Muhammad, told the BBC.”

U.N.-Backed Polio Vaccination Campaign Moves Forward In South Sudan

“Up to 3.2 million South Sudanese children have received vaccinations against polio in a United Nations-backed campaign to ensure the new country remains free of the deadly disease, more than two years after the last case was reported,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The three-phase campaign, which is being coordinated by South Sudan’s health ministry and backed by UNICEF and the WHO, will continue with additional immunizations next month, according to the news service. “Polio … re-emerged in South Sudan in April 2008, but after an intensive vaccination campaign, no new cases have been reported since June 2009,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/14).

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.”

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.

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.”

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).