New York Times Examines IFRC Appeal For $2.1M To Combat Resurgence of Polio in Africa
The New York Times on Tuesday examined the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' (IFRC) recent urgent appeal for millions of dollars to combat a new outbreak of polio, which has been found in 15 African countries since January 2008. "Polio is spreading again, including in countries such as Uganda which had been polio-free for more than a decade," Tamman Aloudat, IFRC senior officer, said (McNeil, New York Times, 4/21).
Despite more than 20 years of efforts to eradicate polio, the disease remains endemic in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Two strains of the disease have spread from northern Nigeria and northern India-places where Muslims have resisted vaccines because of a belief that the vaccines are part of a "Western plot to sterilize them," according to the New York Times.
Aloudat said that it is particularly worrisome that polio has reached Port Sudan, a ferry port on the way to Mecca. Pilgrims are believed to have spread polio from Port Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Indonesia and Yemen between 2004 and 2006, the New York Times reports, adding that these outbreaks cost more than $150 million to quash (New York Times, 4/21).
IFRC is asking for $2.1 million to support activities to mobilize people during immunization campaigns. According to the IFRC, more than 41 million children will be immunized against polio during April and an additional 42 million children from Nigeria are scheduled to be immunized in May. Ministries of Health will operate the immunization campaigns with support from the World Health Organization's Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International, CDC and UNICEF. Fifteen countries that have been affected by the new outbreak; they are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Togo, Sudan and Uganda. The emergency appeal is to support all the outbreak countries except for Chad (IRFC release, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.