Polio Making Comeback In Middle East

“[I]t’s clear that polio — which just two years ago was on the verge of eradication, with active cases confined to just three countries — is resurgent, and the news is grim,” Laurie Garrett, a journalist and senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, noting several suspected cases of the disease recently have been reported in war-torn Syria. In fact, “[a]s of October 16, the number of 2013 active polio cases found in the three ‘endemic nations’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria) are far outnumbered by the toll in new outbreaks outside those countries: 99 children have contracted the disease in endemic nations, versus 197 in outbreak areas like the Horn of Africa, which had been free of polio,” she states. “The world has struggled for decades to eradicate polio — a global effort that has cost billions of dollars and millions of man hours,” Garrett writes, adding, “But politics and religion can foil even the best technology and financing.” She describes efforts to eradicate the disease in several Middle East countries, and the challenges those efforts face (10/22).