polio eradication




30 July 2007

First Lady of Nigeria inaugurates vaccination campaigns

The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajia  Turai Yar’AduaThe First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua launched the July 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 free”.

24 July 2007

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 Afghanistan. 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 the poliovirus.

Please click on the links below to access the testimonials, either in streaming (low-res) or downloadable (high-res) format:

Asma's story (streaming; downloadable)
Ahsan's story (streaming; downloadable)
Kamran's story (streaming; downloadable)

Read (in pdf) the true polio stories of Rehana, Hamid, Nazia and Mujahid.

13 July 2007

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.

11 July 2007

Radio feature on polio eradication: Interview with Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Director for Polio Eradication


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 click here, 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 . 



The Global Eradication of Polio