News / Africa

Horn of Africa Polio Outbreak Thwarts Global Eradication Effort

Horn of Africa Polio Outbreak Thwarts Global Eradication Efforti
X
September 09, 2013 10:21 AM
The global community came tantalizing close earlier this year to ridding the world of polio. But then in May, the eradication effort took a powerful blow. The virus turned up again in the Horn of Africa, first in Somalia. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas looks at what happened and what is being done to wipe out polio once and for all.
Horn of Africa Polio Outbreak Thwarts Global Eradication Effort

Related Articles

Mary Alice Salinas
The global community came tantalizingly close earlier this year to ridding the world of polio.  But then in May, the eradication effort took a powerful blow. The virus turned up again in the Horn of Africa, first in Somalia.  

The Banadir region of Somalia, which includes a Mogadishu refugee camp, is thought to be the so-called “engine” of the Horn of Africa polio outbreak.
 
In June, three-year-old Mohamed Naasir became ill.  His mother, Khadija Abdullahi Adam, said soon after one leg became permanently disabled.
 
“My son was fine, but he started having a high fever which lasted for almost four days," she explained.  "I gave him medicine, but there was no change.  The following morning he said to me ‘Mom, I can’t stand up.’”
 
The virus has spread at a rapid pace, triggering massive vaccination efforts.
 
Earlier in 2013, polio was confined to three so-called “endemic countries” -- Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- where the virus has never been snuffed out.  Combined there were fewer than 100 cases in those three countries.
 
Since the virus re-emerged in the Horn of Africa, there have been at least 160 polio cases in Somalia alone, and the virus has spread to Kenya and Ethiopia.
 
Genetic analysts suggest the virus sweeping through the Horn of Africa is most similar to the strain found in Nigeria.
 
Partners working to eradicate polio, such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Rotary International, say the virus can spread more easily in Somalia, which has the largest group of unvaccinated children.  That’s largely because conflict has kept vaccination crews from being able to reach them.  But there are other problems too, according to Rotary International’s Dr. John Sever.
 
“The problems of being remote, problems of distrust on the part of the families, the problems of communication, the problems of mapping and realizing where these people are and they migrate from one area to another,” Sever said.
 
Many families are suspicious of outsiders, especially from the West. 
 
So for vaccination crews, it is vital that they work with local government and religious leaders, like Somali Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdulkadir Homhamed Soomow.
 
“We urge the people of Somalia to be vaccinated. The doctors tell us that polio can kill and it’s harmful to both adults and children,” he said.
 
Recently, global partners agreed on a five-year plan to end polio once and for all.  The intensive effort includes blanketing polio hotspots with vaccination crews, to essentially corner and kill the enemy.  
 
“We’re getting closer, that’s the encouraging part," Dr. Sever said, adding that global partners know what to do and still hope to rid the world of polio by 2015. 
 

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid