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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs