News / Health

Polio Chased From Southeast Asia

Polio Chased From Southeast Asiai
X
Steve Baragona
March 28, 2014 5:35 PM
A swath of territory from India to Indonesia has been declared free of polio, the crippling and sometimes fatal disease. The World Health Organization says 80 percent of the world’s population now lives in areas it has certified as polio-free. VOA’s Steve Baragona reports.
— A swath of territory from India to Indonesia has been declared free of polio, a crippling and sometimes fatal disease. The World Health Organization said 80 percent of the world’s population now lives in areas it has certified as polio-free.
 
Polio once paralyzed a thousand children a day worldwide, but since 1988 the largest public health campaign in history has been delivering vaccines to every remote corner of the globe to beat back the disease.
 
At a ceremony in New Delhi Thursday, the World Health Organization’s Poonam Khetrapal Singh said all 11 countries in the Southeast Asia region had eradicated polio.
 
“It is a day that all countries fought hard for, and a day when all stakeholders come together to relish the victory of humankind over a dreaded disease that, for centuries, has killed and disabled legions," said Khetrapal.
 
India was the last and most challenging country in the region to reach this milestone, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Steve Cochi.
 
“That country is a tropical country with poor sanitation, high population density, tremendous migration of the inhabitants of that country all the time, and weak immunization systems that represent enormous challenges,” said Cochi.
 
The challenges of underdevelopment are not limited to India. Many of the same issues can be found in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last three countries that have been unable to stop polio transmission.
 
Perhaps the biggest challenge has been parents’ concern that the vaccine will harm their children. Cochi said these fears take hold not because the vaccine is unsafe, but because of a lack of trust.
 
“Underserved communities, minority populations may mistrust the government, may mistrust the real reason for coming to the community with vaccines or any other health intervention. And it’s a case of rebuilding that trust,” said Cochi.
 
Offering community health clinics that deliver more than just polio vaccine are one way the campaign has done that.
 
The CDC has also helped train local people to talk to their neighbors about polio and other health issues. People trust a local, said Indian trainee Ejaz Afzal.
 
“People know him, this is our village, [he] is from our locality. So they are believing [him],” explained Afzal.
 
Afzal went to the Horn of Africa to help control an ongoing outbreak in countries that used to be polio free. Fighting has blocked vaccination campaigns in Syria. The virus has spread from that country to Iraq, and officials are concerned it will spread farther, possibly into Europe.
 
It’s a reminder that polio anywhere remains a threat everywhere.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid