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Global Polio Eradication Effort Facing Setbacks In Africa, Middle East

“The global effort to eradicate polio, a disease that has been on the brink of extinction for years, is facing serious setbacks on two continents,” the New York Times reports. “The virus is surging in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, which had been largely free of cases for several years. And a new outbreak has begun in a part of Pakistan that a warlord declared off limits to vaccinators 14 months ago,” the newspaper writes (McNeil, 8/22). According to VOA News the “polio outbreak on the Horn of Africa has spread to Ethiopia,” and “[a] Somali refugee camp in Kenya has also seen 12 cases of the paralyzing disease this year” (Baragona, 8/22). In addition, “[t]he battle to eliminate polio has hit apparent setbacks in northern Pakistan, where new cases are being reported, and in Israel, where the discovery of the virus in the sewage system has led to a mass immunization campaign,” The Guardian adds, noting, “Fourteen suspected cases of polio have been discovered in Pakistan’s insurgency-racked north-west, where Taliban militants have banned vaccination workers” (Boone/Sherwood/Boseley, 8/22). Scientific American interviews Bruce Aylward, assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration at the WHO, “to find out more about the situation in Israel and how recent events there are affecting global efforts to wipe out the disease” (Maron, 8/22).