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Polio Eradication Hinges On Four Countries

Success In Global Polio Eradication Hinges On Four Countries, And $440 Million – UN

New York, Oct 13 2006 3:00PM

The world’s success in eradicating polio now depends on four countries – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan – according to the independent oversight body of the United Nations-backed effort to wipe out the often paralyzing and sometimes fatal disease, and a further $440 million is needed over the next two years for victory.

The Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE) advised the four polio-endemic countries to set realistic target dates for stopping transmission, noting that improvements in immunizing all children in these areas have been only incremental, and that these countries will take more than 12 months to end polio.

Given that all children paralysed by polio in the world this year were infected by virus originating in one of the four endemic countries, polio-free countries are now taking new measures to protect themselves, the committee said in its latest update. As an example it cited the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, which will be enforcing stringent polio immunization requirements for the upcoming annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The ACPE oversees the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by the UN World Health Organization (<"http://www.who.int/mediacentre/en/">WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (<"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF), national governments, Rotary International, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and many private sector foundations.

Global polio eradication efforts reduced the number of cases from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,403 as at 10 October this year, of which 1,300 are in the four endemic countries where transmission has never been stopped, the lowest number of endemic countries in history.

In addition to strengthened political ownership in the remaining endemic countries, key to success is the ongoing commitment of the international donor community, WHO said in a news release.

For 2006, a further $50 million is urgently needed to ensure that planned immunization activities through to the rest of the year can proceed. Additional funding of $390 million is required for 2007-2008, of which $100 million is needed for activities in the first half of 2007.

Ends

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