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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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