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East Africa Declared Polio-Free Again After Outbreak

“Eastern Africa is free of polio again, with four countries – Ethiopia , Kenya, Sudan and Uganda – having reported no cases of the crippling disease for more than a year, U.N. and other aid agencies said on Friday,” Reuters reports (7/30). The WHO “said the region had responded fast to the outbreak,” according to the Daily Monitor. The article reports that the four countries now “join neighbouring Somalia which has been polio free for the last three years” (Lirri, 8/2).

“‘Today marks a step towards the achievement of a major objective of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s new strategy – stopping polio in Africa,’ officials of the United Nations Children’s Fund says in a statement,” United Press International reports. The initiative was led by national governments, the WHO, Rotary International, the CDC and UNICEF. According to UPI, the new strategy “calls for the cessation by mid-2010 of all polio outbreaks and aims to build on success in key endemic countries, such as Nigeria, where the number of polio cases has dropped by more than 99 percent – from 312 cases last year to three in 2010, U.N. officials say” (7/30).

The outbreak in the region “began in 2008, following the reappearance of wild poliovirus type 1 in the border area of southern Sudan and Ethiopia, and spread in early 2009 to the northern Sudanese city of Port Sudan and to Kenya and Uganda,” according to Xinhua (Mutai, 8/1).