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Recent Releases In Global Health

Situation In Japan ‘Demands Calm, But Considered’ International Response: In light of the recent disaster in Japan and ongoing concerns over radiation in the country,”WHO might consider convening experts to review the consequences for human safety of nuclear energy, and the wider lessons to be learned from recent earthquakes,” a…

Bill Gates Travels To Europe To Promote Global Health Investments

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is in Europe this week “in an effort to persuade Europeans not to cut aid budgets in the face of austerity – and in particular not to reduce spending on vaccinations and agriculture,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Gates Foundation Announces New Anti-Polio Initiative For Nigeria's Executive Governors

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…

Los Angeles Times Examines Polio Eradication Campaigns In Pakistan

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).

China Vaccinates 4.5M Children, Young Adults Against Polio After Outbreak

“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.

India Must Stay The Course In Efforts To Eradicate Polio

“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).

Global Polio Eradication Initiative Not On Track To End Transmission by 2012, Report Says

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.”

Opinion Pieces Address World Polio Day

Though the number of new polio cases has dropped by 99 percent over the past 20 years, World Polio Day is recognized “because we haven’t done enough yet,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in his blog, “The Gates Notes.” He continues, “The last one percent is the hardest percent, and we have to do even more than we’ve already done if we hope to finish the job on polio. The day the world is declared polio free is the day we can really begin celebrating” (10/21).