Africa could be certified polio free in 2020 (2)

30 August, 2019

Dear HIFA and CHIFA colleagues,

As Nigeria celebrates 3 years without wild polio virus, I looked back to a WHO nnews relkease circulated on CHIFA 3 years ago. It refers to the identification of two cases in Borno state, and WHO's prompt response. I reproduce the message below.

It is thanks to WHO's vigorous response, in collaboration with Nigeria MoH and partners, that these two cases were indeed the last, and not the first in a new surge of cases. The timeline over the past 3 years might have been very different.

This achievement is *despite* ongoing financial restrictions which limit the ability of WHO to serve its leadership function as the guardian of global health. As Richard Horton and others have said, it is vital that WHO is fully supported, including and especially with financial support, to enable it to realise its mission and health for all.

As always, we thank the frontline health workers who continue to risk their lives in providing polio vaccine in countries where myths and imisinformation continue to prevail.

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Subject: [chifa] Government of Nigeria reports 2 wild polio cases, first since July 2014

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2016

Please see the press release from WHO below. The news is highlighted in the international media: 'Two children have been paralyzed by polio in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state in two local government areas that had been cut off by Boko Haram’s Islamist militants, Health Minister Isaac Adewole said in a statement Thursday night... The Islamist extremists opposed the anti-polio campaign. Boko Haram gunmen killed nine female vaccinators in northern Kano state in February 2013, but the vaccinations continued.' (Washington Post http://wapo.st/2bl9LIj )

New cases come on the two-year anniversary since the last confirmed case of polio was reported in Africa.

News release

11 AUGUST 2016¦ GENEVA - After more than two years without wild poliovirus in Nigeria, the Government reported today that 2 children have been paralyzed by the disease in the northern Borno state.

As an immediate priority, the Government of Nigeria is collaborating with WHO and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to respond urgently and prevent more children from being paralyzed. These steps include conducting large-scale immunization campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help catch the virus early. These activities are also being strengthened in neighboring countries.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that 2 Nigerian children have been paralyzed by polio. The Government has made significant strides to stop this paralyzing disease in recent years. The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunize all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease", said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

"We are confident that with a swift response and strong collaboration with the Nigerian Government, we can soon rid the country of polio once and for all..." said Dr. Michel Zaffran, Director of polio eradication at WHO Headquarters...

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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