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Polio News March 2013

Polio News
Another country becomes polio-free! The last of the lab results are in and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has officially passed a year without a single case of wild poliovirus (WPV).

DR Congo, which had battled re-infection for seven years, is now no longer considered to be affected by re-established transmission of WPV. Angola came off the 're-established transmission' list in July 2012, South Sudan in 2010 and now DR Congo; Chad remains the only country with re-established transmission. With no WPV recorded since June 2012, however, Chad is also on track to becoming polio-free once more.

Neither Chad nor DR Congo can afford to relax – circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) type 2 has recently paralyzed children in both countries. Boosting immunity in settings of low routine immunization coverage such as these is a key premise of the 2013-18 Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan.

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Update on the Global Status of Polio - Travelers' Health

22 March 2012 - What Is the Current Situation? Polio is a serious disease that can cause paralysis and death. If you are going to one of the countries listed below, CDC recommends that you make sure you are up to date on your polio vaccine. If your vaccine is not up to date, you will need to get vaccinated.

Africa united to tackle polio epidemic

Track national and international efforts to reach 85 million children in 19 countries and stop a year-long polio epidemic in West and Central Africa.

AllAfrica: Polio - The Last One Percent

Led by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the fight against polio is 99 percent of the way towards complete eradication. For those who live with the disease, breakdancer B-Boy Junior of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is an inspiration.

Polio in Nigeria: The Race to Eradication

Since 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)—an international partnership of government and private institutions—has reduced the number of reported polio cases worldwide by more than 99 percent, successfully eliminating polio from much of the globe. Yet Nigeria remains one of the most entrenched reservoirs of poliovirus in the world. Download pdf file of "Polio in Nigeria"

Latest News:

Polio's Return After Near Eradication Prompts a Global Health Warning

May 5, 2014 - Alarmed by the spread of polio to several fragile countries, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Monday for only the second time since regulations permitting it to do so were adopted in 2007.

Polio outbreak in northeast Syria risks spreading, WHO says

Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:30am GMT. By Stephanie Nebehay. GENEVA Oct 29 - (Reuters) - A polio outbreak has been confirmed among young children in northeast Syria and risks spreading in the region, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Experts Say Polio Eradication Achievable by 2018

11 April 2013 - The paralyzing viral scourge of polio could be eradicated worldwide by 2018, say hundreds of international scientists, doctors and experts, and on April 11, they collectively endorsed a new strategy to achieve that goal.

How To Get Rid Of Polio For Good? There's A $5 Billion Plan

April 02, 2013 - Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.

A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.


Emergency Preparedness and Response: Capacity, Tackling Complacency, Focusing on Polio and Partnership for the Long Term

This report shares the key points from a communication review carried out from November 29 - December 7 2012 to explore the state of polio immunisation communication in India (now removed from the World Health Organization (WHO)'s list of polio-endemic countries), where, however, there remains the risk of poliovirus importations, especially from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. In this context, the Government of India has declared that any case of polio will be treated as a public health emergency; all states have prepared an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP). The communication plans under the EPRPs identify and map: areas and communities that may need special focus, stakeholders that can be involved to mobilise the community, initiatives that would be undertaken, etc. For appropriate media engagement and response, a proactive plan, clearly identifying spokespersons at various levels, has been prepared. The communication review team was asked to review emergency preparedness and response capacity and partnership.

CORE Group Polio Project: Examples of Videos, Brochures, Training Tools and Community Mobilisation Materials

This PowerPoint presentation, with accompanying PDF document, describes and shares communication materials from the CORE Group (the Child Survival Collaborations and Resource Group), with a focus on its efforts to mobilise community involvement in the polio eradication programme and to improve routine immunisation (RI) in high-risk areas of Uttar Pradesh, India. These materials have been sharpened over time and are now being used, for example, to record data and facilitate participatory techniques toward behaviour change.

The Revolutionary Optimists

This multi-platform advocacy campaign mobilises children in Kolkata, India, to go door-to-door with home-made megaphones, mobile phone technology, and global positioning system (GPS) maps. They encourage neighbours to participate in polio vaccination programmes and track and collect data around health issues that impact them - water, sanitation, and infectious diseases. The Revolutionary Optimists is captured by a documentary to be released in 2013.

CORE India Combined Routine and Polio Immunization Drive 2010

The CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP) in India undertook a communication-centred initiative to deliver the oral polio vaccine (OPV) as well as routine immunisation (RI) to underserved, high-risk areas. Formed in 1999 in Uttar Pradesh, CGPP's India Secretariat implements the project via an extensive network of Community Mobilization Coordinators (CMCs) who conduct social mobilisation activities in high-risk areas to promote acceptance of the OPV.

Social Mobilization: Lessons from the CORE Group Polio Project in Angola, Ethiopia, and India

by Elaine Murphy, PhD
"Marking a shift from the earlier dominance of epidemiological perspectives, today behavior-change communication - advocacy, interpersonal communication, and social mobilization - is recognized internationally as the way forward in this final phase of polio eradication." This report: places the CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP) within the context of the GPEI, defines and describes three varieties of social mobilisation (SM), and presents as case examples CGPP's SM work in India, Angola, and Ethiopia to reach difficult-to-access populations critical for polio eradication. Eleven lessons learned are elaborated. [Sep 2012]


Global Polio Eradication: Not There Yet

This Lancet editorial discusses the "devastating setbacks" that hampered the global effort to halt all wild poliovirus transmission (WPV) by the end of 2012 as established by the 24-year-old Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). In mid-December 2012, 9 health workers were shot dead while travelling from house to house to administer polio vaccine to children during the national anti-polio campaign in Pakistan. Then, on January 1 2013, 6 female Pakistani aid workers and a male doctor were shot dead. As noted here, it is female health workers who "are standing fearlessly and selflessly on the frontline of Pakistan's war against polio, because culturally only women are allowed to enter into houses to talk to mothers and vaccinate their children." [Jan 2013]

See alsoPolio Killings Should Be a Wake-up Call to Eradication Effort

The Wrong Way to Fight Polio

by Helen Epstein
Helen Epstein reflects on what were, at the time of writing, recent murders of 9 members of a polio vaccination team, funded by the United Nations (UN)-led GPEI, in Pakistan; the gunmen were thought to be linked to the Taliban. "The heroic approach", labelled and described by Epstein as "the lavishly funded, multiple immunizations the polio program requires", does not always, in her assessment, make sense to local political leaders and warlords or to ordinary poor people who are struggling just to keep their children alive. [Dec 2012]

Reaching the missed children for Polio Vaccination - bringing innovation in a local way

by jawahir
"The Communication Network (COMNet) in Quetta [Balochistan, Pakistan] has found a unique way to immunize missed children amongst mobile and migrant population....COMNet team hired a "Jhoola", a manually operated swing for the children....The Jhoolas were placed at 3 different settlement areas....During the activity, the parents were briefed on importance of vaccination and hygiene. Female social mobilizers went tent-to-tent to inform families about vaccination and bring out children for immunization. A large number of children gathered around the swing; parents brought their children enthusiastically to play and receive polio drops." [Nov 2012]

Follow up to the Independent Review of the Afghanistan Polio Eradication Programme Held in July 2012

As part of the global effort to eradicate polio, this report shares the insights of a 4-person team who met in Afghanistan in November 2012. The programme has used sources such as pre-existing maps of radio and media channels together with District-level information to identify media outlets to work with and feels strongly that information, education, and communication (IEC) materials "have an important role to play". Furthermore, a new interpersonal communication (IPC) training module has been developed; plans were for all social mobilisers and vaccinators to have received this new training by the end of December. Clusters identified as at high risk (high child absence and low awareness) now have a social mobiliser accompanying vaccinator teams assisting them to access children at the doorway, "providing more complete polio and routine messaging and helping to identify missed children....Social mobilizers are also being integrated more closely with the vaccinators through joint training and microplanning and there is pilot project to have social mobilizers go out before the round to mark the number of children in each household to provide vaccinators with a more accurate enumeration of children in their area."
See alsoExternal Polio Communication Review: Afghanistan

Report of the Communications Review: Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme

A number of recommendations are presented in a chart organised according to each of the 4 review groups and different levels of focus. For example, the mass media review group suggested that, at the national level, the polio programme should focus on building media relationships and strengthening journalist Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) knowledge and reporting capacity through media workshops, take-away media packs, and more media events prior to immunisation rounds. Also recommended is that a media crisis plan be developed that includes supporting materials. Further ideas include: "Ensure government is the leading voice on polio. Improve coordination between partners through editorial meetings, aligning media and communication plans and improving staff training on EPI and communication to improve partner relations." [May 2012]

Towards Polio Eradication

by Elias Durry
From a World Health Organization (WHO) staff person and senior member of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) in Pakistan, this opinion piece explores, amongst other things, misinformation and rumour, which is a central issue with regard to communication surrounding the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in Pakistan. In his words: "At a time when Pakistan was moving in the right direction towards complete polio eradication, security incidents followed by a series of incorrect media reports in various sections of the press...have seriously jeopardised the recent successes of Pakistan's fight against polio." [Jan 2013]

Communicating with Context: Polio Eradication and the Political Economy of Vaccination

by Seb Taylor
Writing in the context of recent reviews of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Seb Taylor argues that communication for polio eradication can be strengthened in 3 ways:
  • "First, generating a more textured analysis of the national and sub-national political, economic and institutional context in which the eradication programme happens.
  • Second, exploring ways in which communications can be used to change and enhance the material conditions of the lives of those people targeted for vaccination.
  • Third, understanding the complex and often multiple identities and attitudes of key actors and interlocutors in the polio eradication programme, in order to target communication interventions within the programme's core constituency - its health workers and vaccinator teams.

Missed: Polio Communications Quarterly Update

With a focus on Pakistan and Nigeria's most vulnerable communities, this report provides insight about the role that community push-back is playing in the transmission of the polio virus and how the GPEI can mitigate these social risks to reach every missed child. "New mass media campaigns that build on the power of interpersonal communications are underway in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the ultimate goal of igniting a broad social movement against polio. Population awareness has already begun to rise in both countries as a result. As the media campaign continues to roll out in a series of planned phases, it must move beyond raising awareness to reinforce on-the-ground efforts of promoting local ownership and engagement." [Oct 2012]


Polio: Is it too late for participation?

by Wendy Quarry
"Communication professor and writer, Silvio Waisbord got it right ten years ago when he noted that the rift between those who see communication as behavioral change and those who support a more participatory approach has still not healed. I thought about this during a recent review of Polio Communication in Nigeria. Here a 'top-down' full-scale behavioral change approach is in full swing despite an apparent need to adopt longer-term, participatory and more 'bottom-up' approaches to reach 'missed' or non-compliant households. When asked to write about my impressions of this review, my first thought was the difficulty the polio machine might face in pausing long enough to build in a new approach. The train has so clearly left the station and is gaining momentum based on the hope that its power alone would solve the problem. Perhaps in other countries, but not Nigeria. Here the reasons for non-compliance are complex within an equally complex environment. This is in direct contrast to Canada decades ago where I had my first brush with the disease." [Nov 2012]
We welcome responses and further thoughts on the questions Wendy raises. You can do so by logging on to the Polio Network site. If you are not yet registered, you can do so here - make sure you select 'Join Polio Networks'.

Music and Mothers: Intensified Communication Efforts in the Fight against Polio in Chad

This news piece from the GPEI explores the role of community mobilisation - interpersonal communication (IPC) by women and the use of music - to encourage Chad's mothers to vaccinate their children. For example, the Government, with the support of GPEI partners, carried out a communication campaign involving an open air, free-admission concert to raise awareness in N'Djamena. Amongst the messages expressed by a famous Chadian singer: "Youth, I say this: when you see the vaccinators, it is to give two drops against polio. So ask your parents to allow them to vaccinate your siblings. Parents leave behind the preconceptions." [Jan 2013]

Polio-Free Chad: UNICEF Quarterly Newsletter on the Polio Eradication Initiative in Chad

"In 2011, 132 Chadian children were paralysed by wild polio, whereas there were just 5 in 2012. In this effort, "[r]eaching the sizeable nomadic population has been vital....The Programme has sought the help of these communities to develop strategies to find and vaccinate their children. This innovative work, which has also involved the veterinary sector, and the contacting of nomadic leaders by mobile telephone, is paying dividends in Chad and could be replicated elsewhere in the Global Programme." Also, while vaccine refusal "has barely been an issue in Chad", community engagement remains key, as the percentage of children missed for "social reasons" is still high. "Caregivers' poor awareness of vaccination campaigns is now rated as high-risk by UNICEF, not helped by the fact that many core communications personnel are not yet in place in the field." [United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Jan 2013]

Volunteer Community Mobilizer Network Nigeria

Selected from their respective settlements, female volunteers have been trained to work as "change agents" in the community and are responsible for house-to-house mobilisation for polio and routine immunisation. They have started to identify and characterise chronically missed children and non-compliant parents through a community-friendly approach. [National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) partners - with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)]

Tsangaya School Strategy

To address an upsurge of polio cases in Nigeria in August 2012, the Tsangaya School Strategy involves the full engagement of religious schools, institutions, and leaders, and teachers, whom organisers say are critical community leaders and opinion-makers. The concept is that, for polio eradication to succeed, it is important to engage and ensure the full participation of all sectors of society and in particular the communities themselves. [UNICEF, with the support of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC)]

Final Report from the Nigeria [Polio] Communication Review

This report provides a consolidated summary of the major findings and recommendations of a 4-day polio communication review that was undertaken in 4 states of Nigeria (Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, and Kaduna) by 4 teams. The teams found that the programme remains vulnerable to rumour and misinformation, and communication has a major role to play in reducing this vulnerability. Suggested areas of improvement with regard to community engagement in this regard include ideas such as this: information, education, and communication (IEC) materials should be "developed in a manner consistent with proven behavior change communication methodologies. Messaging and content must be data-driven and thoroughly pre-tested to ensure acceptability in the target community, with a particular emphasis on local language and/or low-literacy content." [Oct 2012]

Final Report: 24th Meeting of the Expert Review Committee (ERC) on Polio Eradication & Routine Immunization in Nigeria

According to the report, the ERC was encouraged by a number of developments in the national programme. For example, a pact signed by traditional leaders to lead repeat vaccination efforts in poor-performing wards "offers a new avenue to bring their influence to some of the fundamental challenges with vaccinators and accountability". Also, the ERC notes that a revised national communication strategy would create an enabling environment for delivering oral polio vaccine (OPV) if it can be rolled out in time to support the low-transmission season Immunization Plus Days (IPDs). "Finally, under-pinning everything, is the hope that the government can succeed in truly elevating completion of polio eradication to an emergency status at all levels." [Sep 2012]


Polio's Last Stand: Report of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

In going forward, according to the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the GPEI: "There is one ingredient...that is still missing in the affected countries - absolute ownership. Ownership means parents demanding the vaccine, making it their mission to protect their children. Ownership means local leaders grasping the challenge of wiping polio from their area. Ownership means a critical mass in the population believing that their children can, must and will be protected through the eradication of polio." [Nov 2012]

Immunisation for All: No Child Left Behind

by Kirsten Mathieson and Lara Brearley
Noting that one child in five around the world misses out on basic vaccinations, this report identifies country-level strategies to reach the unreached. It also identifies factors at the global level that will help to create a more conducive environment for countries to achieve and sustain universal immunisation coverage. [Dec 2012]

E-learning Course on Vaccine Safety Basics

This free, interactive online course - one module of which focuses specifically on communication - aims to establish a shared understanding among professionals whose work is linked to vaccine safety issues. [WHO]

The Shot Felt 'Round The World

This 60-minute documentary on polio tells the story of Dr. Jonas Salk and his research team, who pulled together with a community and a nation (the United States) which "rolled up its collective sleeves to conquer the most-feared disease of the 20th century." The film is a resource around which an advocacy and education programme has been built. [May 2011]

Global Guidelines: Independent Monitoring of Polio Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIA)

This guide from the GPEI is designed for polio eradication programme managers who are involved in the planning and operations of SIAs. It explains how to establish a system of independent and credible monitoring of SIAs in an effort to provide reliable and timely data to monitor progress and take corrective action. [Oct 2010]

Communicating with Context: Polio Eradication and the Political Economy of Vaccination

23 October 2012 - In the course of recent reviews of the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two things occurred to me about the communications and social mobilisation component of both national programmes. First, attention to social data (evidence-based analysis of the attitudes and behaviour of households confronted with the possibility of polio vaccination) has improved enormously in recent years.

Second, however, analysis of the causes of poor programme performance (high rates of missed children) is still too narrowly conceived and operationalized. Research supporting polio communications seems to focus heavily or exclusively on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of eligible households - as if the behaviour of households when confronted with the possibility of polio vaccination is the result, uniquely, of knowledge and attitude, and not of other, more material circumstances that determine what kinds of behaviour are practically possible. In a corollary fashion, research protocols appear to investigate household knowledge, attitudes and behaviour as if polio were the only - or at least most central - concern in the lives of households which, in reality, struggle with a hundred more pressing and pertinent issues every day.

Polio in Pakistan: Who's to Blame?

17 July 2012 - Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani children will go unprotected against polio after the Taliban banned vaccinations anew. A planned three-day campaign to reach 1 million children in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas had to be postponed Monday (July 16) following the Taliban's ban on inoculations in North and South Waziristan, and Khyber's Bara district. The ban comes a month after a Taliban leader barred UNICEF from vaccinating more than 160,000 children in North Waziristan.

Vaccinating 111 Million Children for Polio in Four Days

23 March 2012 - An article in today's LA Times about a massive polio immunization push in 20 African countries includes a beautiful and significant graphic–a map with red dots showing where polio cases exist in the world at the end of 2011.

Agencies to vaccinate millions to avert "polio explosion" in Africa

22 March 2012 - U.N. agencies and their local partners are starting a massive vaccination campaign this week in a bid to stop polio from spreading in West and Central Africa, the agencies said in a joint statement. Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus which invades the nervous system. It can lead to total paralysis in a matter of hours, and can be fatal. The vaccination campaign will target 111 million children under the age of five in 20 countries.

Richard Smith: Can polio be eradicated or will it flare again?

22 March 2012 - In 1988 the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for the eradication of polio by 2000. There were 350 000 cases in 1988, and by 2000 the number had been reduced by 99%—to around 600. Since then the number has stuck at around 600, and there is anxiety that the last 1% of cases will not be eradicated. Worse, if that 1% cannot be eradicated then the number is likely to climb again to tens or hundreds of thousands of cases.

Year's first case of vaccine-derived polio reported in Bengal

19 March 2012 - India has reported its first case of vaccine derived polio virus (VDPV) infection of 2012. A five-month-old child from the Murshidabad district of West Bengal has got infected with the virus after taking the oral polio vaccine.

This, however, does not threaten India's recently awarded polio free status because though detecting VDPV is part of the surveillance system, it does not get added when putting together a country's polio numbers.

Rotary Clubs Light Up the World to Eradicate Polio

21 February 2012 - Rotary clubs will once again illuminate landmarks and iconic structures around the world in view of the group's pledge to the 'End Polio Now' campaign. Worldwide, fewer than 650 polio cases have been confirmed in 2011, less than half the 1,352 infections reported in 2010.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in their 34,000 Rotary clubs spread over 200 countries. Rotary members are men and women who belong to the business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place and one of their top priorities is the global eradication of polio.
End Polio Now message illuminates world landmarks

India Close to Eradicating Polio, But Challenges Still Remain

PBS Air Date: Feb. 20, 2012 - Health officials in India are close to wiping out polio, a disease forgotten in most of the world but still endemic in some developing countries. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on India's challenge to remain vigilant in its campaign to immunize children one mouthful at a time.

The Final Inch

14 February 2012 - First Friday-the-13th this year was certainly not an unlucky day for India at least. It was the day when India had gone one year without a single new case of polio. In the coming weeks, India will be removed from the WHO's list of countries where polio is endemic. A pat on back duly deserved. But only a battle's won, war to be continued.

Vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in Japan

11 February 2012 - Despite WHO's recommendation to switch the poliomyelitis vaccine from oral polio vaccine (OPV) to inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in countries where polio elimination has been achieved, Japan has continued to use OPV.

Inside Story - To immunise, or not?

9 February 2012 - Video - Vaccinations have eliminated polio from much of the world, and controlled many diseases that once maimed or killed in large numbers. But are concerns over the risks of immunisation enough to stop getting vaccinated?

Pakistan embarks on polio-vaccine drive

6 February 2012 - Video - Health workers stop vehicles outside Islamabad to administer free polio vaccination drops to children. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world still affected by the polio virus. Now, in an unusual effort to eliminate the disease, health workers are stopping vehicles at a busy toll booth outside Islamabad to administer free polio vaccination drops to children under the age of five.

In Major Global Advance, India Sees First-Ever Year Without Polio

29 January 2012 - It took nearly two decades and a billion dollars, but on January 13, 2012, India celebrated its first-ever year without a single case of polio. India is one of just four countries in the world where polio—long ago eradicated in the West—has remained stubbornly endemic, thwarting a global eradication effort that began back in 1985. If this South Asian country of roughly 1 billion people remains polio-free this time, India's last ever polio case will have been Rukhsar Khatoon, an 18-month-old girl from Howrah in the Indian state of West Bengal.

The Eradication Calculation

17 January 2012 - Does it really make sense to spend billions of dollars to wipe out the few remaining cases of polio?

Bill Gates' Philanthropic Efforts Have Helped Over 5.8 Million People

15 January 2012 - Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and its former CEO is already known for his philanthropic efforts, not just in America, but around the world. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps in raising money and awareness about different charities that assist people from all corners in various causes of humanity. - Infographic

Flip side of India's polio success story

15 January 2012 - Country needs to pencil strategy to fight infection triggered by vaccine itself. India's health ministry, celebrating a year of freedom from wild polio, now faces a dilemma that public health experts had predicted years ago: the very vaccine it is using to fight polio is causing more polio paralysis than the wild poliovirus.

India records one year without polio cases

12 January 2012 - India appears to have interrupted wild poliovirus transmission, completing one year without polio since its last case, in a 2-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal, on 13 January 2011.

India was once recognized as the world's epicentre of polio. If all pending laboratory investigations return negative, in the coming weeks India will officially be deemed to have stopped indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus. The number of polio-endemic countries, those which have never stopped indigenous wild poliovirus transmission, will then be reduced to a historical low of three: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Help Celebrate a Milestone

On January 13th 2012, the world reached a remarkable milestone in the fight to eradicate polio – 12 months without a single case of polio for the first time in India's history.

- It's a remarkable achievement: and one that many thought would never be possible.

Polio Eradication Within Reach as India Takes Giant Step Forward

12 January 2012 - This week the world celebrates a major milestone in the global fight against polio. On January 13, India will mark one year in which no child was paralyzed by polio -- for the first time in history.

Goal of a polio-free world hampered by three pockets of disease

11 January 2012 - With India polio-free for the past year, there are now only three countries where polio is endemic: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Global health experts caution that the challenges there are massive, making the World Health Organization's stated goal of a polio-free world by 2012 virtually unattainable.

How India conquered polio

11 January 2012 - On Friday, India marks a huge public health milestone – a year since a case of polio was found in the country – a critical step in being declared polio-free and an achievement that many experts long argued was impossible.

Just two years ago, India reported 741 cases of polio, the largest number in the world. But a mammoth, years-long push, involving billions of dollars and millions of volunteers fanning out across the country's rural villages and slums to vaccinate children has paid off. It has been a full year since a case was found, allowing the World Health Organization to declare polio is no longer endemic here and transmission has been stopped.

India poised to enter club of polio-free nations

11 January 2011 - Just a few years ago, skepticism ran deep about the chances that India would ever be able to stop polio from paralyzing its children.

While in recent years most cases occurred in or emanated from two northern states -- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- polio routinely crippled somewhere between 550 and 900 Indian children a year. And polioviruses from India regularly found their way to far-flung places, triggering outbreaks in nine countries over two continents since 2005 alone.

India on track to be declared polio-free next month

10 January 2011 - The polio virus has disappeared from the country for 12 months, but it could still be re-imported from neighboring nations.

Immunisation push propels India towards victory in war against polio

2 January 2012 - Support from initially hostile Muslim clerics means disease is rapidly vanishing, even in city where it had the strongest hold

For the Herd's Sake, Vaccinate

27 December 2011 - It's the reasoning of Clarence, the angel from "It's a Wonderful Life": If you are vaccinated, you won't pass a disease on to someone else, who won't pass it on to six more people, and on and on. To quote Clarence, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives."

Jabs without needles? A needle-free injection device is trialled in Cambodia

16 December 2011 - It has long been clear that, as the world moves closer to the eradication of polio, there will eventually need to be a switch from the widespread use of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) - an injectable vaccine. However, delivering injections in places with under-resourced health systems and undertrained health workers can be difficult and hazardous. Luckily, a needle-free injection device recently trialled in Cambodia is, so far, proving safe and easy to use.

Fighting the stigma of disability

15 December 2011 - Mosharraf Hossain has battled against prejudice in Bangladesh. Find out about him and other people living with disability across the globe

NGO Assignment, Kolkata's Railway Station: Stopping Polio Dead in its Tracks

20 November 2011 - One way that the program finds and immunizes children is by sending health workers to places like Howrah Train Station, in Kolkata (Calcutta), where families with children from all over India are in transit. Howrah is India's busiest train station, carrying more than 1 million passengers per day, so it's a prime target for India's Polio Eradication Programme. Photos and Video

Smoke, Mirrors, and the "Disappearance" Of Polio

17 November 2011 - There is plenty of confusion on the topic of vaccination, especially amongst brainwashed doctors who trusted their medical schools. Then the unsuspecting, trusting public trusts them…because the medical establishment must know best, right? And doctors are nice people, trying to do a good thing. True. I was once one of those brainwashed doctors who believed in the benevolence of the medical system and believed that all I learned was the best that modern times had to offer.

The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: An Example of International Cooperation

16 November 2011 - By supplying his oral polio vaccine, Dr. Sabin helped to immunize hundreds of thousands of children in Czechoslovakia. Dr. Sabin's scientific colleagues helped him by providing the resources needed to conduct large scale trials of his vaccine. During the Cold War era, this level of cooperation was pretty amazing.

Fighting the polio scourge in India

13 November 2011 - In strictly monetary terms, if polio is eradicated globally within the next few years, the world's total investment in the effort - now at more than $8 billion - will yield benefits estimated at $40-50 billion through 2035, according to a study published last year in the journal vaccine.

The benefits will stem largely from the reduction in health care costs and a corresponding increase in productivity, as more than ten million cases of polio paralysis are prevented. Most of the benefits will accrue in countries where polio lingered the longest.

Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication --- Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jan 2010--Sep 2011

11 November 2011 - Indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus (WPV) has never been interrupted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria. Among those countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan represent a common epidemiologic reservoir. This report updates previous reports and describes polio eradication activities and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan during January 2010--September 2011, as of October 31, 2011, and planned activities during 2011--2012 to address challenges to polio eradication.

Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication - Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jan 2010--Sep 2011

10 November 2011 - Indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus (WPV) has never been interrupted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria. Among those countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan represent a common epidemiologic reservoir.

Inactivated polio vaccine and global polio eradication

8 November 2011 - The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Early Online Publication
2012 will mark the 24th year of WHO's Global Poliomyelitis Eradication Initiative. Eradication has proven more difficult than originally envisioned because of geopolitical events, such as war, social disruption, and political indifference; social and cultural issues, such as distrust of poliovirus vaccines and vaccinators; and the unanticipated emergence of virulent vaccine-derived polioviruses in many locations.

Yale neurosurgeon to pursue development of nasal polio vaccine with Gates grant

7 November 2011 - Van den Pol proposes to generate a polio virus vaccine based on a different virus, a rhabdovirus, which will express some of, but not all, genes from the poliovirus. The vaccine could be delivered as a nasal spray, thereby not requiring a syringe injection.

Why polio persists

7 November 2011 - Eradication or containment? Caplan, for one, is skeptical polio can ever be eradicated; it's unverifiable, he said. He understands the GPEI will not be deterred, but questions the point of such an ardent campaign. He argues that money should be directed toward public health problems, like malnutrition or malaria, that result in thousands more deaths each year. "You wonder how long you can keep pushing the local health departments in poor countries before people just burn out of eradication efforts," he said.

India battles serious polio 'P1 virus' threat from Pakistan

6 November 2011 - India is coping up with a different cross border risk from Pakistan. India especially the border areas are facing serious threats from the deadly P1 polio virus which has gripped the neighboring nation these days.

The border areas of Punjab, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir are facing higher risks of virus. In the year 2011, Pakistan has recorded 134 fresh cases of Polio.

Pakistan and Polio

5 November 2011 - Pakistan has recently abolished its Ministry of Health, under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, under which there has been massive devolution of responsibilities from the federal to the provincial level in Pakistan's federating system. This has led to lack of responsibility for national actions in health, a fragmented health information architecture, and low human resource morale because of deployment uncertainty, all detrimental for the polio eradication drive. Pakistan needs to put its entire organisational shoulder to the Polio eradication wheel on an emergency basis and get actors involved that can deliver in emergencies, to tackle this problem with institutionalisation of accountability as a key element.

Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication --- India, January 2010--September 2011

4 November 2011 - Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
During 2010 and 2011, India made substantial progress toward polio eradication. A year has passed since the last confirmed WPV3 case, and >9 months have passed since the last confirmed WPV1 case. The absence of any reported WPV cases since January, including during much of the June-November high-transmission season, is unprecedented. WPV was last detected in sewage in Delhi in August 2010 and in Mumbai in November 2010.

A Global Effort to Eradicate Polio

4 November 2011 - While the eradication of polio across the globe has attracted attention, there has actually been no further reduction in annual cases since 2001 despite extensive efforts, "which has led to getting rid of the last 1% being described as 'like trying to squeeze Jell-O to death.'"

Muslim scholars fight to dispel polio vaccination myths in Pakistan

4 November 2011 - Militant Islamists have spread conspiracy theories about vaccinations – which has contributed to a resurgence in polio

Indian Encephalitis Outbreak: Polio Under a Different Name in the Vaccinated?

2 November 2011 - Polio is a type of encephalitis and is symptomatically indistinguishable from any other type. Unreported in mainstream media is that polio has also been diagnosed in Uttar Pradesh—and that victims have been vaccinated as many as 7 times. The province has been a center of polio vaccinations in children. The policy is to vaccinate all children every year to assure that nearly everyone is vaccinated.

Support The Pledges

November 2011 - On Friday 28th October five of the worlds leaders and Bill Gates stood together in their resolve to make polio the second human disease eradicated from our planet. Collectively, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Bill Gates pledged more than $100 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

This is a major step towards plugging the funding gap that is limiting the work of the GPEI.

Join us in thanking them for their support

UNICEF Ambassador Fernando Alonso promotes polio eradication in India

1 November 2011

Over $100 million in pledges for polio eradication at Commonwealth meeting

31 October 2011 - Australia leads the charge joined by Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - pledging over $100 million in new funds to help deliver a polio-free world.

An additional $50 million from Australia, $15 million from Canada, and $13 million in new funding from Nigeria, which has now committed $30 million to eradicate polio by the end of 2012. In addition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged an additional $40 million for global eradication efforts through the remainder of 2011.

THE POLIO CRUSADE: Virus that halted America - Watch on PBS

October 2011 - It reads like the plot of a horror film - 33,000 people dead in a single year, from an unseen virus.

The polio epidemic of 1950 is explored in an hour-long film, The Polio Crusade. Part of PBS's American Experience (the most watched history series in the US), it tells the story of the small town of Wytheville, Virginia, which was gripped by the deadly virus. Terrified parents kept children indoors, cinemas were closed and baseball games cancelled.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Polio: An American Story, by David Oshinsky, the film features fascinating interviews with survivors and Julius Youngner, the only surviving scientist from the research team that developed the eventual vaccine.

Commonwealth leaders pledge more money to fight polio

29 October 2011 - "To fail now would unleash widespread suffering and death on the world's most vulnerable children." "As long as one child remains at risk, all children are at risk." Commonwealth leaders pledged Saturday to step up their efforts to eradicate polio to save the lives of children from the crippling disease. Watch video

The End of Polio Concert A Smash Hit

29 October 2011 - John Legend, Bliss N Eso, The Getaway Plan, Calling All Cars, Hungry Kids of Hungary, Owl Eyes, Andy Bull .... On 28th October, in Perth, against the backdrop of the largest ever gathering of Commonwealth leaders, The End of Polio Concert drove polio eradication back into the international spotlight, demonstrating the mass public support required to bring an end to this debilitating disease.

Leadership, not Pollyannaish optimism, will defeat polio

25 October 2011 -To fail now would unleash widespread suffering and death on the world's most vulnerable children.

Nigeria: The Race to End Polio - Challenges and Gaps to Close

25 October 2011

Nigeria: Why Polio Cases Resurfaced - Dr. Yahaya

25 October 2011

We are on the cusp of ending polio

24 October 2011

Eradicating polio will pay big dividends

24 October 2011

Nigeria: Polio - Nation Sinks in Pain

24 October 2011

Officials say India close to wiping out polio

24 October 2011

India: 'Which polio vaccine is best?'

24 October 2011 - BOPV now being tested against IPV to see which one boosts mucosal immunity the most

Longest Polio Free Period Ever Seen in India

23 October 2011 - System Geared for Emergency Response to Eradicate Polio

China: Final push to declare victory over polio

23 October 2011

Politics and superstition hinder polio eradication efforts in Pakistan

23 October 2011

Scathing Report: Polio Eradication "Not… Any Time Soon"

22 October 2011 - An independent monitoring board convened by the worldwide polio-eradication initiative has delivered a report on the global effort that is striking for its brutally frank and even frustrated tone.

Among its findings, just in its first few pages: “Case numbers are rising”; “unwelcome surprises continue”; “as many milestones are being missed as are being met”; and “the (eradication) Programme is not on track for its end-2012 goal, or for any time soon after unless fundamental problems are tackled.”

Possibly the biggest problem, the board concludes, is a get-it-done optimism so ingrained in the 23-year effort that it cannot acknowledge when things are not working ...

Gates Foundation and Partners Mark 2011 World Polio Day

21 October 2011

A Call to Action on World Polio Day

21 October 2011 - Bill Gates - Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation In advance of World Polio Day (October 24), Bill discusses the historic opportunity to end polio.

Polio eradication effort falters at final hurdle

21 October 2011

Value of Vaccines Being Questioned by Younger Doctors

21 October 2011 - In fact, the survey found that younger graduates were less likely to believe that inactivated or oral polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccines are safe. Current generations have little knowledge of the polio outbreak that crippled ...

Report on polio eradication calls for attitude changes

21 October 2011 - "We are convinced that polio can -- and must -- be eradicated. We are equally convinced that it will not be eradicated on the current trajectory. Important changes in style, commitment and accountability are essential," says the report, the third from the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Biting report on polio eradication effort calls for personnel, attitude changes

20 October 2011 - A bitingly candid new assessment of global polio efforts concludes the hurdles now facing eradication relate to the way the program is run, not scientific challenges posed by the poliovirus.

The obstacles standing in the way of polio eradication now rest within the global eradication program itself and are not scientific challenges posed by the poliovirus, a bitingly candid new assessment of the program declares.

The latest report of an independent panel set up to assess the polio eradication effort questions why "tired and ineffective" managers are being left in key positions and suggests the program's perennially positive attitude may be getting in the way of getting the job done.

Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative - Third Reportdownload pdf

October 2011
Executive Summarydownload pdf

Can India Stamp Out Polio?

19 October 2011 - Must be polio-free for three years. Must stay the course in efforts to eradicate polio

Polio virus being exported from Karachi

19 October 2011 - 'Any failure in this fight would mean an end to foreign aid for us.'

China: Polio Outbreak Prompts Vaccination of more than 9 million people - polio strain travelled from Pakistan

18 October 2011

Pakistanis spurn polio vaccines

16 October 2011 - Rumors linking vaccination campaigns to Western plots to keep population growth down

India encephalitis outbreak kills 400, mainly children

12 October 2011 - More than 400 people, mainly children, have died in an outbreak of viral encephalitis in northern India, health officials say. Nearly 6,000 children have died of encephalitis in the hospital since the first case was detected in 1978.

Accountability Is Key in the Fight to End Polio

7 October 2011

External Polio Communication Review: Afghanistan

30 September 2011 - This report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) presents the findings of an independent polio communication review conducted in Afghanistan, a polio-endemic country, as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). 24 page reportdownload pdf

Polio Free


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