“India has not had a case of polio in nine months, raising hopes the country is on the verge of defeating the disease, health officials said Monday,” the Associated Press reports. “India remains one of only four countries in the world where polio is still endemic, and the nine months that it has been without a case is the longest since eradication efforts were launched nearly two decades ago,” the AP writes, adding, “A country is declared polio free when no cases of the disease are reported for three years, according to the World Health Organization.”
“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).
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.”
“Clearly, there is no room for complacency” in India’s efforts to eradicate polio, defined by the WHO as no recorded case of the disease for three years, because “[t]he goal of complete eradication is within reach,” Deepak Gupta, a senior U.N. professional in Strategic Health/Development Communication, writes in an Asia Sentinel opinion piece. “[T]he next three years — till 2014 — will be crucial,” he writes, meaning experts should focus on “intense communication and preventive work, especially with regard to critical risk-factors like poor routine immunization and lack of proper sanitation,” he states, concluding, “The challenge is to ensure the sustainability of the success achieved so far” (10/19).
“China vaccinated 4.5 million children and young adults over the last five weeks in the western region of Xinjiang in a fight against polio after the disease paralyzed 17 people and killed one of them, the World Health Organization said,” according to Reuters. This is the first outbreak of polio in China since 1999, “and scientists say the strain originated from Pakistan,” one of four remaining countries where polio is endemic, the news service writes.
The Los Angeles Times examines polio eradication campaigns in Pakistan, which is one of just four countries where the disease remains endemic. “Several factors have stood in the way of eradication,” including tribal violence, migration within the country and “an intense mistrust among some Pakistanis for the vaccines and the people who supply and administer them,” according to the newspaper (Rodriguez, 10/16).
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…
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.
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).