News / Health

Health Experts: One Last Push Needed to Eliminate Polio

Health Experts: One Last Push Needed to Eliminate Polioi
|| 0:00:00
X
Vidushi Sinha
September 03, 2012 7:16 PM
The three countries where polio is still endemic - Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan - are conducting aggressive immunization campaigns to vaccinate more children against the disease. Experts say with India now polio-free and the total number of cases at the lowest level ever, this is an opportunity to change history and irradicate the disease entirely. VOA's Vidushi Sinha reports that to reinforce that commitment, many world leaders will be meeting in New York this month.

Health Experts: One Last Push Needed to Eliminate Polio

Vidushi Sinha
The three countries where polio is still endemic - Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan - are conducting aggressive immunization campaigns to vaccinate more children against the disease. Experts say with India now polio-free and the total number of cases at the lowest level ever, this is an opportunity to change history and irradicate the disease entirely. To reinforce that commitment, many world leaders will be meeting in New York this month.

The oral polio vaccine has cut the number of polio cases worldwide by 99 percent since 1988. For the past 10 years, though, eliminating that last percent has remained a challenge.

Even though the total number of cases has declined, experts say every time they have knocked the virus out in one country, they have seen it pop up in another.

“We have the highest population immunity throughout the entire world right now, and we are really talking about just a few districts and a few countries with a population that has been missed for a fairly long period of time,” said Ellyn Ogden is worldwide polio eradication coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Dr. Liam Donaldson, Britain's Chief Medical Officer, who is head of the World Health Organization's Independent Monitoring Board for polio eradication, spoke via Skype, and said the board is especially worried about Nigeria.

“So our good news is mixed with continuing concerns," said Donaldson. "The numbers were coming down, but over the last year we have seen a worrying increase in Nigeria. Polio in Nigeria isn’t just a problem for the population of Nigeria. A lot of the outbreaks that have occurred in other parts of Africa have been fed from epicenters in Nigeria, so that’s why it’s very important not just for Nigeria but for other parts of Africa, as well.”

Donaldson said polio eradication programs are not on track to stop polio virus transmission by 2012.

While polio eradication is urgent, Ogden said these last remaining reservoirs, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, make it difficult to put a date on success.

“It may not happen in the time frame that we are thinking or in the budget that we are thinking, it may take longer and cost more, but I think the effort and the nearness merit additional investments by donors and partners that it's still too early to give up on this ship," said Ogden.

Donaldson said that with 125 cases reported so far this year, one final push is needed to get polio eradication over the finish line.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid