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Polio Endemic Countries Look to Finally Eradicate Virus

by Kathy Jones on February 27, 2012 at 9:18 PM
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 Polio Endemic Countries Look to Finally Eradicate Virus

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have high hopes of making it off the list of polio endemic nations.

The representatives of the three nations were present at the Polio Summit organised by health ministry and Rotary International. The three nations have high hope for their polio battle.

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Pakistan ended last year with 198 polio cases, followed by Afghanistan with 80, Nigeria with 60, and India with only one case.

Talking to IANS on the sidelines of the summit, the official representing Nigeria's health ministry, Ibrahim Labran said they expect to keep up with the 2012 deadline given by World Health Organisation, stating that a sound strategy is in place.
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"We plan to finish this task as soon as possible. We already have the strategy in place, and the immunisaton and campaigning strategies are very much similar to India," Labran said.

"Like India, we too had huge numbers. But we hope to bring an end to it soon," he said, adding, "we will continue to collaborate with India."

Asked for a deadline, the minister said 2012 is the target set by Nigerian government.

Pakistan and Afghanistan meanwhile said terrorism was affecting their fight against polio.

"The southern provinces are disturbed being dominated by Taliban. Resurgence rate here is very high," Afghanistan's UNICEF deputy representative Vidya Ganesh told IANS.

She said disappointment however was on the emergence of polio cases in northern provinces, which earlier did not have the virus.

"Cases have come up in the northern province, where there was not a single case in ten years," she said.

Asked about the goals set for the country, Ganesh said they are setting achievable goals and expected some major milestone to be achieved in 2012.

"We are stepping up our efforts at all level and have set tough goals for ourselves. We expect a milestone to be achieved in 2012," she said.

Pakistan's minister for inter-provincial coordination, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani said at the summit, terrorism was effecting the fight against polio.

"One major obstacle is, Pakistan's fight against terror which has made a number of areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces bordering Afghanistan as highly volatile. Resultantly, it is not possible for health workers to reach children in all areas to administer polio drops to them," he said.

Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee said migration of polio virus can be a great risk for India, and with neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan being endemic country, the struggle becomes difficult.

He emphasised that there is a need to cooperate and work together to bring polio to an end globally.

"This is perhaps the first time representatives from all endemic countries are here," said Banerjee.

"We need to solve this problem in a friendly way," Banerjee told IANS.

According to Banerjee, the Nigerian health department informed that some terrorist problems in Nigeria effected the polio campaign.

He added that the hope still remains to finish polio in 2012.

Source: IANS
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