30 July 2007
First Lady of Nigeria inaugurates
First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua launched
2007 Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) in Kebbi state in northern Nigeria,
where endemic poliovirus still circulates. Stressing that immunization and
child survival were high priorities for the country, she
called on all parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are
vaccinated during the IPDs and by routine immunization. In a private
meeting with WHO Representative Dr. Peter Eriki, Hajia Yar’Adua noted
with happiness that the country was on the right path to polio eradication
and assured that “we will do whatever we can to make Nigeria polio
True stories of polio
victims in Pakistan: video testimonials
What is it really like to be affected by polio? What is the
impact on a person's life, on a child's development, and how does it affect
the families of those with the disease?
Pakistan is one of four
remaining polio-endemic countries, along with Nigeria, India and
In a series of video testimonials, those afflicted by this terrible disease
and their families share their personal experiences of living with polio.
Developed for the Federal Ministry of Health in Pakistan with the technical
support of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), these moving
testimonials are aired on television stations across Pakistan ahead of polio
immunization campaigns, to draw public attention to the ongoing dangers of
Please click on the links below to access the testimonials, either in
streaming (low-res) or downloadable (high-res) format:
Ahsan's story (streaming;
Read (in pdf) the true polio stories
Wild poliovirus isolated
from an adult returning to Australia from Pakistan
On 13 July 2007, the
regional polio reference laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, reported
isolation of a type 1 wild poliovirus, from a stool sample of a 22-year old
Pakistani man who had returned to Australia on 1 July to continue his
studies. The man had developed symptoms related to polio around 22 June in
Pakistan, where he had been on holiday since 17 March. The patient remains
hospitalized and under observation in Melbourne.
Genetic sequencing of the poliovirus isolated from the 22-year old Pakistani
student has confirmed that it is related to virus in North West Frontier
Province (NWFP), one of the last remaining polio-infected areas in
Pakistan. Pakistan is one of four polio 'endemic' countries where
circulation of indigenous wild poliovirus has never been interrupted (the
other three countries are Nigeria, India and Afghanistan).
The risk of onward spread of the poliovirus is low due to a number of
factors, particularly Australia's strong routine immunization system and
excellent sanitation infrastructure. The Government of Australia has taken
a number of additional steps in response to this importation, including
enhancing disease surveillance and distributing a public health alert to
public health institutions across the country.
This case highlights the risk wild poliovirus continues to pose to all
countries, until it is eradicated globally. To minimise the risk of a polio
outbreak following an importation of the wild poliovirus, all countries have
been urged to maintain high population immunity against polio through strong
routine immunization programmes and to ensure active surveillance for the
disease. It is also recommended that all travellers to polio-infected areas
be fully immunized against the disease, as outlined in the WHO document,
International travel and health.
Radio feature on polio
eradication: Interview with Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Director for Polio
In 1988, polio paralysed
more than 350,000 children, in more than 125 endemic countries. That year,
the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate this ancient
scourge - it marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Since that time, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative - spearheaded by
WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and UNICEF - has achieved impressive progress. Today, only four
countries remain which have never interrupted endemic transmission of the
disease, and fewer than 300 cases have been reported this year.
In an exclusive interview with Canada's reputable health radio programme
'Sunday House Call', Dr Bruce Aylward, Director for Polio Eradication, WHO,
discusses the challenges that must now urgently be overcome to ensure that
polio is rapidly consigned to the history books once and for all.
To access the programme, please
and scroll to the archived programme from 7 July 2007.
3 July 2007
GAVI reprogramming ensures
polio eradication activities can go ahead
In a strong vote of confidence in the polio eradication effort, the GAVI Fund
Affiliate on 29 June finalized a reprogramming of US$ 104.62
million from a post-eradication era polio vaccine stockpile into intensified
polio eradication activities. This one-time gesture frees up much-needed cash
for eradication and ensures that intensified polio eradication activities
in polio-endemic and high-risk countries in the second half of 2007 can go ahead
as planned. While this does not represent "new" money, the reprogramming does
ensure that polio funds are being used most strategically, and provides time
for other donors to firm up pledges for 2008 activities. The reprogrammed funds
come from the US$ 191 million Polio Stockpile Investment Case, part of the
innovative International Finance Facility for Immunization .