WHO: Pakistan and Afghanistan: the final wild poliovirus bastion

6 January, 2019

Dear HIFA and CHIFA colleagues,

Below are extracts from a news item on the WHO website.

https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/pakistan-and-afghan...

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Pakistan and Afghanistan: the final wild poliovirus bastion

4 January 2019

As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350 000 children in more than 125 countries every year. Today, the virus has been beaten back to less than 30 reported cases in 2018 in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the world stands on the cusp of an unprecedented public health success: the global eradication of a human disease for only the second time in history.

WHO and partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are committed to fully support the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to tackle polio in its last strongholds and get rid of this debilitating disease for good.

Polio eradication requires high immunization coverage everywhere, worldwide, to block transmission of this extremely contagious virus. Unfortunately, children are still missing out on vaccination for various reasons including lack of infrastructure, remote locations, population movement, conflict and insecurity and resistance to vaccination...

That is why the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan have mobilized every sector of public and civil society, every community and religious leader, every vaccinator, every mother and father, to eradicate this disease once and for all. “There is no reason why we should not be able to finish this job, we are nearly there,” says Professor Helen Rees, Chair of the Emergency Committee on Polio Eradication under the International Health Regulations (IHR). “But we have to keep at it. We have achieved this before with smallpox. The world is a much better place without smallpox. If we stop what we are doing, we could go back to a situation where we have 200 000 or 300 000 children paralysed every year.”...

WHO and partners are committed to helping countries achieve this success. On 1 January 2019, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took over the Chair of the Polio Oversight Board, which guides and oversees the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, as a clear sign that the eradication of this disease is a priority for the organization...

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org