“The 36-member Nigerian Governors’ Forum has launched a new initiative to rid the country of polio,” VOA News reports.
“According to the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), continued transmission of polio is a ‘global health emergency,’ and plans to interrupt transmission by the end of 2012 are ‘at risk,'” the Lancet Infectious Diseases reports, adding, “With a US$590 million funding gap and weak political leadership in some countries, the engagement of communities to plan and implement local approaches is paramount.”
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.
“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).
Officials in Pakistan on Monday “announced targeted, three-day anti-polio campaigns in affected areas, which include Karachi and districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. According to the Global Eradication Initiative, led by the WHO, 84 cases of type 1 polio have been reported in Pakistan so far this year, nearly twice as many cases as the country had recorded by this time last year, according to the blog.
“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).
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).
“Angola has tripled its spending on health care since 2006, but for the vast majority of Angolans who can’t afford sparkling new private clinics — or better yet, care abroad — a trip to the hospital is still a nightmare,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Despite its oil wealth, in 2006 Angola ranked ninth from the bottom in the world on health spending, which accounted for just 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. Since then, spending per person has tripled from $64 to $204, according to World Health Organization data,” according to AFP.