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Polio facing challenges in Africa:

Last year’s polio outbreak in Cameroon requires intense monitoring.

This October marks a year since a wild poliovirus outbreak in Cameroon was confirmed. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has been working tirelessly to protect children across central Africa to stop the transmission of the virus. In September, the 2nd outbreak response assessment took place in Cameroon to assess just how close we have come towards ending the outbreak, and what challenges we are still facing. Chris Wolff, coordinator of the World Health Organization’s Country Support Team, travelled to Cameroon as part of the assessment team.

A child receives a polio vaccine during National Immunization Days in the Nigerian city of Kano.

A child receives a polio vaccine during National Immunization Days in the Nigerian city of Kano.  
Photo: Diego Ibarra Sanchez /Courtesy of Rotary Foundation

What is the situation in Cameroon now, nearly a year on from confirmation of the outbreak?

In 2014, Cameroon has reported 5 cases of polio. Between February and July, no cases were reported and it looked like the outbreak was closing down. But then in August 2 cases were reported from a refugee camp near the border with the Central African Republic. Those two cases alerted us to the fact that there are still weaknesses in the response. The outbreak cannot be considered over just yet and there is work that needs to be done.

Prejudice and superstition against polio vaccinations is creating resistance not only in Muslim communities but also in some local Christian communities.  The challenges to overcoming ignorance know no religious boundaries.

Follow this link to read more:  Resistance to polio vaccination in Africa

New vaccination challenges are appearing due to virus mutations discovered in Africa that are showing evidence of vaccine resistance and decreased vaccine effectiveness.

Follow this link to read more:  New polio mutations causing vaccine resistance

Pakistan’s government is showing new resolve to engage the militants in the remote tribal regions of that country.  In conjunction with this effort a new government declaration of commitment to polio eradication indicates government support may now be improving.

Follow this link to read more:  Pakistan PM decclares country will be polio free in 6 months

National public radio had a recent piece covering the value of polio eradication efforts toward gaining experience in containing other disease outbreaks—specifically Ebola virus.

Follow this link to read more:  Fighting Polio is Good Training to Fight Ebola