News / Asia

WHO Calls Polio's Spread a Global Emergency

Police stand guard as a polio worker waits to give polio vaccine drops to children at a street in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 30, 2014.
Police stand guard as a polio worker waits to give polio vaccine drops to children at a street in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 30, 2014.
Sharon Behn
Alarmed by polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the World Health Organization is calling for a coordinated international response to stop the spread of the crippling disease.

The agency, citing a public health emergency, on Monday released a set of recommendations. These included travel restrictions for Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria, countries currently exporting the wild virus that causes the infection.

WHO's assistant director general, Bruce Aylward, said the situation was particularly serious because the new polio infections have occurred between January and April, traditionally the disease's low transmission season.

The disease usually affects children 5 and younger and is spread by water infected with fecal matter.

The number of confirmed polio cases reached 68 last month, compared with 24 the previous year, the Associated Press reported.

A WHO emergency committee said Camaroon, Pakistan and Syria should ensure that all residents and long-term visitors get immunized against polio before traveling abroad. Travelers should carry a certificate or other evidence they've been immunized, the agency advised. 

Pakistan, which has the world's highest incidence of the disease, is moving quickly to make polio vaccines mandatory for all those planning to travel out of the country, its national minister of health told told VOA.

“We were already considering, along with our provincial governments, that we should make sure that all Pakistanis, before leaving Pakistan, should have these polio drops," Saira Afzal Tarar said.
 
Polio also is endemic in Afghanistan and Nigeria. Its re-emergence in countries where it previously had been controlled -- Camaroon, Equitorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya and Somalia -- led the organization to its recommendations.

Taliban hampered immunizations

Because of a Taliban ban on vaccinations, and the organization's deadly attacks on anti-polio health teams, national eradication efforts in Pakistan have suffered critical setbacks.

Tarar said those areas inaccessible to health workers are the main reservoirs of the polio virus. A heavy Taliban presence has all but denied access to the tribal area of North Waziristan.
 
Pakistan’s prime minister has asked the country’s military to help protect polio vaccination workers in the insurgency-plagued northwest.
 
Although not legally binding, the WHO recommendations carry a lot of weight, said the organization's acting representative in Pakistan, Nima Saeed Abid.

WHO expects many of the countries will follow its recommendations, "but it depends on the member state to implement," said Abid. "I do not think member states would ignore these recommendations.”

The travel measures are expected to remain in place until six months have passed without polio virus exportations.

VOA's Sharon Behn reported from Islamabad and Lisa Schlein reported from Geneva.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: shaban from: Islamabad
May 10, 2014 3:48 AM
I do not believe that vaccination of adults will help in eliminating poliomyelitis virus. Let me explain why: The virus enters through the mouth and multiplies
in the throat and gastrointestinal tract, then moves
into the bloodstream and is carried to the central
nervous system where it replicates and destroys the
motor neuron cells. Motor neurons control the
muscles for swallowing, circulation, respiration, and
the trunk, arms, and legs. Allah made our immune system which protects itself and other cells by producing antibodies that engage the poliovirus, covering them and preventing the virus from
interacting with another cells. What the vaccine does is to put a polio virus into our body in an in-active state, so that our immune system recognises the virus from an early stage, and can produce the anti-bodies later in our life, if we are attacked with the Virus. An adult is less likely to get infected, but by taking the vaccine he has high risks of getting VAPP, Vaccine associated paralytic polio, and this is common with people with low immune systems. Statistics shows that proper hygiene was responsible for the elimination of the disease and not any vaccine. While I was in Sudan, the govt. there would spend millions of malaria medicine, but would not bother to open drains and make way for rain water. There would be a puddle of water in front of every house. Proper hygiene and mothers milk is the best vaccine against any infection. But we are ruled by business enterprises who want to make a dime even out of our crap.

by: Saeed Ikramullah from: Rawalpindi, Pakistan
May 07, 2014 11:39 AM
The recent travel restrictions/advisory issued by WHO for Pakistanis traveling abroad is absolutely ridiculous and absurd to say the least. WHO claims to be a champion of eradicating diseases worldwide but this time they have played right into the hands of Taliban and their supporters who do not allow immunization of children for polio virus.

It is a joke with all Pakistanis even adults who have to be orally vaccinated before their travel abroad. Instead of working with the government here to find ways and means to tackle the menace WHO has taken the easy road to impose travel restrictions. The government here must ensure that all travelers be it foreigners officials or otherwise working in Pakistan to go through this humiliation of oral vaccination at the airports including WHO foreign staff working here should they wish to travel abroad so that everyone is on board including our foreigner friends!

by: Ali from: Pakistan
May 06, 2014 4:35 AM
UN did not condemn the CIA from running false health programmes to identify and kill Osama Ben laden and now wonder why no one believes their 'health' programmes to be genuine! pathetic.
It is the TTP/ Taliban and their supporters who are responsible for this happening...they attack health workers and kill them thinking as CIA agents like Shakeel Afridi who want to kill them by identifying their leaders DNA. The innocent children are paying the price for adventure and heroism of US troops and CIA agents.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs