Rotary Aims to Immunize 2B Children Against Polio; WHO Director-General Says Eradication A Priority
Rotary International's Polio Plus program aims to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries, according to a statement released by the organization on Monday, Xinhua reports. More than $600 million has already been donated to the program, which has thousands of volunteers. Contributions to the program represent the largest amount of private sector support for a global health initiative Kaushik Manek, Rotary International's District Governor said at the 84th Rotary 9200 District conference and assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
"One of Rotary International's key goals is the eradication of polio," Manek said, adding that Rotary adopted this as one of its "key goals" in 1985 and has since "committed millions of dollars towards eradicating this tenacious disease" (Ooko, Xinhua, 5/18). About 1,000 people from more than 10 countries participated in the conference, AfricaNews reports. A variety of topics were covered, including preventing disabilities in children and the reemergence of polio, especially in Nigeria and Sudan (Akelo, AfricaNews, 5/19).
On Monday at the annual World Health Assembly, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said amid concerns about the spread of H1N1 (swine) influenza, countries should not let other important health concerns, like polio, be overshadowed. According to Chan, the global polio eradication campaign that WHO started in 1988 is "very close" to achieving the goal of eliminating this disease, VOA News reports (Schlein, VOA News, 5/18).
Also in polio news, IRIN examines polio strain tracking. The article describes the work of Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, a virologist who leads the sequencing section at South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases' (NICD) Polio Molecular Unit. By studying variations in genotypes, Gumede-Moeletsi was able to trace the origin of the 2005 polio outbreak in Angola, which had previously been free of polio cases since 2001.
According to Gumede-Moeletsi, it is important for a country dealing with a polio outbreak to know how the situation might progress. She said that sequencing can help to detect the possibility of a new strain and can also help to determine whether it is an outbreak of wild polio virus or vaccine-derived poliovirus. In addition, sequencing can help countries to identify gaps in immunization coverage. Adrian Puren, deputy director of NICD, explains that if sequencing techniques found a mutated form of the virus that seemed newer than a strain that was prevalent before the country's last vaccination drive, it might be an indication that the immunization program did not reach all areas.
The article also examines sequencing's role in polio eradication and the use of a vaccine that contains a live virus (IRIN, 5/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.