World is now 80 percent polio free, WHO says
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/28/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Amidst all the bad news the world has to offer, here is a ray of sunshine: the World Health Organization has declared that the world is now 80 percent free of polio. Vaccination remains a problem in the mostly rural Pakistan, but that didn't prevent the neighboring nation of India from declaring no reported cases of polio in three years.
Vaccination remains a problem in the mostly rural Pakistan, but that didn't prevent the neighboring nation of India from declaring no reported cases of polio in three years.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The certification is being hailed a "historic milestone" in the global fight to eradicate the crippling virus, which typically attacks and disables the very young. The WHO has declared its South East Asia region polio-free.
The WHO admits there are still major challenges to overcome if the world is the reach the goal of eradicating polio everywhere by 2018. There remains that nagging 20 percent; polio is still endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
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Syria, stricken with a civil war dragging into its fourth year, has reported polio outbreaks, a setback to a nation which had previously managed to stamp out the virus.
Other nations in the South East Asia region, such as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan, have been free of the virus for more than 15 years.
Usually attacking children under five years old. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine. It can then invade the nervous system, causing paralysis in one in every 200 infections.
South East Asia is the fourth of six WHO regions to be declared polio-free after the Americas, Western Pacific and Europe regions. However -- Eastern Mediterranean and Africa have yet to gain a similar status.
"This is very significant because before this region was certified polio-free, we had half the world's population polio free," Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO South East Asia regional director, says. "With the South East Asia region being added we now have 80 percent of the population polio free.
"This was a problem the region was struggling with for a long time, but now finally, we are polio free."
It's a remarkable success story for India, as many experts thought India would be the last country in the world to get rid of polio. Deepak Kapur, of Rotary International's India National Polio Plus Committee said India faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, such as its immense population.
"India has close to 170 million children under five who needed to be immunized.
"Then there's the existence of insanitary conditions which helped the polio virus to proliferate - and impure drinking water because polio is a water borne disease."
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