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.
Pakistan has reported the first case of the type-3 wild poliovirus in six months, raising concerns that the disease may spread to other parts of Asia and beyond, the WHO said on Thursday, Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle reports. “Confirmation of continuation of WPV3 transmission in tribal areas of Pakistan has significant implications for the global effort to eradicate WPV3, particularly as Asia is on the verge of eliminating circulation of this strain,” the WHO said on its website.
An independent group of health experts, formed last year at the request of the WHO, on Wednesday warned that the world is not on track to eradicate polio by the end of 2012, the Associated Press reports.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday, where he held talks with government officials and traditional leaders to discuss polio eradication efforts in the country’s worst-hit northwestern region, Agence France-Presse reports (9/27). During the three-day trip, Gates, along with the foundation’s CEO, Jeff Raikes, will “follow up … on the Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication, in which Nigerian federal and local government officials committed in 2009 to have at least 90 percent of children immunized against polio toward its eradication,” Daily Times Nigeria writes.
Meeting With Bill Gates, Nigerian President Jonathan Re-Affirms Country's Commitment To Eradicating Polio Within Two Years
In a meeting at the presidential villa on Thursday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “that he was determined to eradicate polio within two years after the crippling disease re-emerged earlier this year,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Some 36 powerful Nigerian state governors Thursday signed a statement re-confirming their February 2009 commitment to … reach at least 90 percent of children with polio vaccine with the goal of wiping out polio from the country,” the news agency writes. According to AFP, Gates, who on Thursday completed a three-day trip to the country, “expressed confidence that polio can be stopped in Nigeria and commended the country’s leaders for redoubling their resolve to help finish polio once and for all, the foundation said in a statement” (9/29).
Chad’s President Idris Deby, alongside Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Friday launched a three-day polio vaccination campaign at the Friendship China-Chad hospital “as part of efforts to rid the central African nation of the infectious disease,” AlertNet reports. According to the WHO, “of the 401 declared cases of polio around the globe this year, 114 were in Chad, making it the world’s worst-hit nation,” the news service writes. Polio was presumed to be eradicated from Chad, which did not report any cases between June 2000 and July 2003, but the country has experienced a resurgence of the disease since 2003, AlertNet notes (Nako, 10/1).
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday “announced a new initiative … for Nigeria’s Executive Governors, challenging them to deliver a dramatic improvement in polio and routine immunization by the end of 2012,” according to a Gates Foundation press release. ”The program … will recognize those Executive…
“Afghanistan is intensifying efforts to eradicate polio by the end of next year, but security remains a major challenge especially in the southern provinces where the virus is localized, says” Arshad Quddus, head of the WHO polio program in Afghanistan, IRIN reports. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, according to the WHO, IRIN notes, adding that Afghan “[g]overnment data show that 85 percent of the population now live in polio-free areas, but the virus is still circulating in 13 districts, including the seven where  recent cases have been detected.” In addition to security issues, “low literacy rates, poor hygiene practices and low awareness of the benefits of vaccination” are hindering campaigns, according to IRIN (9/15).
“Polio has broken out in China for the first time since 1999 after being imported from Pakistan, and there is a high risk of the crippling virus spreading further during the annual Haj pilgrimage, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (9/20). Nine cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been recorded in China’s western province of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan, WHO spokesperson Oliver Rosenbauer said, according to Daily News and Analysis, GlobalPost notes (9/21). A genetic link has been confirmed between the virus detected in China and a strain circulating in Pakistan, according to the Associated Press/USA Today (9/20). BBC News reports that “Chinese authorities are now investigating the cases, and a mass vaccination campaign has been launched in the region” (9/20).
“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).