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Polio stays world emergency

Monday December 3rd, 2018

The spread of polio in many poor countries remains a global public health emergency, the World Health Organisation has said, warning of growing problems in countries such as Afghanistan.

So far this year 19 cases have been diagnosed in Afghanistan compared with just ten this year, WHO said.

It warned of cross-border transmission with Pakistan, which is also struggling to contain the outbreak.

Its emergency committee also heard of continuing problems in several African countries – Nigeria, Niger, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – together with Papua New Guinea.

WHO said the declaration of a public health emergency had helped reduce international spread of the wild poliovirus but progress was “fragile.”

In a statement, it said: “The increasing number of countries in which immunisation systems have been weakened or disrupted by conflict and complex emergencies pose another risk. Populations in these fragile states are vulnerable to outbreaks of polio.

“The risk is amplified by population movement, whether for family, social, economic or cultural reasons, or in the context of populations displaced by insecurity and returning refugees.”

Its emergency committee said that extending the emergency for four years was “exceptional” but felt that the circumstances of the polio outbreak are unique.

Tags: Africa | Asia | Flu & Viruses | World Health

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