Stop Polio In Three Endemic Countries To Prevent Its Spread Elsewhere
“One of our worst fears was recently confirmed: Polio has returned to Syria for the first time in 14 years, infecting at least 10 young children,” Siddharth Chatterjee, chief diplomat at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, writes in an Al Jazeera opinion piece. “In Syria, civil war has driven immunization rates down to less than 70 percent, from more than 90 percent in 2010, creating exactly the sort of environment where polio tends to strike,” he states, adding, “Yet even amid the chaos of war, success against polio is possible.” But “[t]he underlying problem is not in Syria or in the Horn of Africa, the site of another polio outbreak this year, but in Pakistan and the other two endemic countries that have never interrupted transmission of the virus: Afghanistan and Nigeria. We must stop the virus there,” he adds. “In the past 25 years, we have gone from 350,000 cases of polio in more than 125 countries to just a few hundred in a handful of countries. These last frontiers are the hardest, but the motivation and plan are there,” Chatterjee continues (11/17).