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VOA Reports On Polio Vaccination Efforts

“International health experts say the global campaign to eradicate polio has reached a critical stage, with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria the only countries where the crippling and potentially deadly virus is still prevalent,” VOA News reports. “Health officials in Pakistan say they are redoubling efforts to vaccinate every child against polio after 198 new cases were reported in the country last year, the largest number anywhere in the world,” the news service notes. It goes on to highlight several challenges to the efforts, including “an ongoing insurgency and the influx of millions of Pakistani and Afghan refugees” and public opposition to the vaccinations resulting from misperceptions and concerns about safety (Padden, 6/9).

An accompanying VOA editorial highlights efforts to stop the spread of polio in Nigeria, writing, “After cases were reduced by 95 percent as recently as two years ago, the disease is re-emerging there as a major threat, with an almost four-fold increase in cases reported across eight northern states since the beginning of the year.” The editorial notes, “The Nigerian government is responding to the crisis with a Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication,” adding, “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also helping, providing scientific and technical assistance to the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and other health organizations to support local polio eradication efforts” (6/9).