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NPR Reports On Resurgence Of Polio In Somalia; New York Times Examines Polio Response In Pakistan

NPR’s “Shots” blog reports on a resurgence of polio in Somalia, noting the country “hadn’t had a case of polio for nearly six years. But in the past few months, the virus has come back.” According to the blog, “Twenty new cases of polio were reported this week in Somalia by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. That brings the total number of cases in the Horn of Africa to 73. The rest of the world combined has tallied only 59 cases so far this year.” The blog continues, “The number of polio cases in Somalia is increasing by the day, says Dr. Nasir Yusuf, who leads UNICEF’s immunization efforts in eastern and southern Africa,” adding, “Part of the problem, he says, is that the majority of children in Somalia have never been immunized against polio.” NPR notes, “In response to the current outbreak, there have been five emergency polio immunization campaigns in Somalia since May” (Beaubien, 7/20).

In related news, the New York Times examines efforts to eradicate the virus in Pakistan, where “[a]nger … over American foreign policy” — specifically a fake vaccination campaign staged by the CIA in its hunt for Osama bin Laden and the continued use of drone strikes in the country — “has led to a disastrous setback for the global effort against polio.” The newspaper notes a number of recent killings of polio vaccination workers in the country and writes, “While some experts fear the killings will devastate the effort here, Pakistan’s government insists that they will not, and has taken steps to ensure that” (McNeil, 7/21).