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Information on the Ministry of Public Health and Population's immunization programs.

Polio Campaign

Latest Updates:

WHO Global Polio Update

WHO '06 Global Polio UpdateApril 2006

This is a WHO report on the spread of the polio virus.



New Tools Move Polio Eradication Drive Into Final Stage

October 12, 2005, News Release WHO/49

Technical body highlights Nigeria as single greatest risk to polio-free world

Geneva - Strong advances in theremaining polio endemic areas and the recent introduction of new tools havemoved the global polio eradication effort into its final phase in all but one country of the world. The conclusion reached this week in Geneva by the Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE), the independent, technical oversight body of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, is that polio could be finished within the next six months everywhere, except in Nigeria.

The recently introduced monovalent oral polio vaccine (mOPV1), which accelerates protection to specific virus types, appears to have stopped transmission in Egypt and most areas of India - the two greatest technical challenges to polio eradication. Developed earlier this year in less than 6 months, mOPVs appear to work faster than traditionaltrivalent OPV to build immunity against specific polio types. The ACPE recommended that mOPV use be rapidly expanded to 'mop up' the remaining polio strains worldwide, including in countries hit by outbreaks such as Indonesia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Angola.

"The ACPE concluded that monovalent oral polio vaccines should bethe 'workhorse' for the final mop-up stage of the global polio eradication effort," stated Dr Steve Cochi, Chairperson of the ACPE and Director of the National Immunization Programme, CDC. "The power and advantages of monovalent polio vaccines can now be fully used. Of the three types of polio virus, type 2 has been eliminated since 1999 and type 3 is limited to three areas of focal transmission."

At the same time, however, the group singled out ongoing polio transmission in Nigeriaas the single greatest risk to a polio-free world. The group concluded that at least a further 12 months were needed to finish the job in Nigeria, following the 12-month suspension of polio immunization in parts of the country in 2003/2004. The burden of disease in Nigeriais 13-times higher than the endemic country with the next highest number of cases (India), while the decline in new cases this year has been slower than anticipated. The ACPE strongly endorsed efforts to improve the quality of immunization campaigns in Nigeriato ensure every child is reached, and the introduction of mOPVs to maximise the impact of each contact.

"As Nigeria intensifies its eradication effort, we will monitor the epidemiological situation there closely," continued Cochi, "and if necessary, provide further recommendations to polio-free countries to protect themselves from re-infection." Following a year dominated by high-profile outbreaks, the ACPE issued new guidelines requiring more rapid and large-scale immunization responses in such areas.

"The ACPE has concluded that all the tools are now in place to finish polio once and for all," concluded Cochi. "It is now up to the remaining polio-affected countries to effectively use these tools. There is no reason why polio should continue to exist anywhere in the world after next year."

The ACPE stressed that the success of these strategies is largely dependent on ensuring sufficient funds are rapidly made available. Multi-year, flexible funding for 2006-2008 is needed to cover polio immunization and surveillance activities. Most urgently, a US$ 200 million funding gap for 2006 must be filled, US$ 75 million of which is needed by November to ensure activities in the first quarter of 2006 can proceed.

Note: A 'mop-up' refers to a rapid and massive, house-to-houseimmunization response within four weeks of confirmation of a circulatingpoliovirus.

Notes to editors: The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF.

The polio eradication coalition includes governments of countries affected by polio; private sector foundations (e.g. United Nations Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation); development banks (e.g. the World Bank); donor governments (e.g. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America); the European Commission; humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations (e.g. the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies) and corporate partners (e.g. Sanofi Pasteur, De Beers, Wyeth). Volunteers in developing countries also play a key role; 20 million have participated in mass immunization campaigns.

Global eradication efforts have reduced the number of polio cases from 350 000 annually in 1988 to 1 349 cases in 2005 (as of 11 October). Sixcountries remain polio endemic (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Niger and Egypt), howeverpoliovirus continues to spread to previously polio-free countries. In total, 10 previously polio-free countries have been re-infected in late 2004 and 2005 (Somalia, Indonesia, Yemen, Angola, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Mali, Eritrea and Cameroon).

For further information, please contact:

  • Oliver Rosenbauer, WHO/Geneva, tel. +41 22 7913832, rosenbauero@who.int
  • Steve Stewart, WHO/Geneva, tel. +41 22 791 1476, stewarts@who.int
  • Vivian Fiore, Rotary Int'l/Chicago, tel.+1 847 866 3234, fiorev@rotaryintl.org
  • Meg Thorley, CDC/Atlanta, tel. +1 404 639 6097, mmt3@cdc.gov
  • Claire Hajaj, UNICEF/New York, +1 646 331 4547, chajaj@unicef.org

For further information on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, please see:

MoPHP Press Conference - Polio Update

July 10, 2005

In their continued efforts to gather support and advocate for the third polio eradication campaign in Yemen, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) held a news conference on Monday, July 10th for representatives of local and international news organizations. The purpose of the event was to share information about the outcome of the last two campaigns, the status of the outbreak, and the third campaign to begin in a few days.

Deputy Minister for Primary Health Care, Dr. Majed Al Junaid, gave a brief summary to update the media about the national door to door campaign that was successfully completed. The campaign included technical and financial support from various international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and other UN agencies, and USAID. The number of confirmed polio cases in Yemen had risen to 326, with 5 cases reported dead. Dr. Al Junaid added that the percentage of coverage was very high which proved there was great coordination among different stakeholders in making this campaign successful.

Dr. Hashim Elzein, Representative of the WHO, praised the unique efforts of the MoPHP and all stakeholders who participated in the last two campaigns, and requested continued support in the third campaign to end the spread of Polio in Yemen.

The media was invited to ask questions, many of which were about the shortcomings of the last two campaigns. Dr. El zein explained the difficulties in reaching some areas due to the difficult topography of Yemen. Overall there were few problems in conducting the campaigns.

In response to a question raised about the media preparations for the campaign, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, Ahmed Al Hamati, explained that they put together very good materials such as movies, clips and reportages to show the dramatic situation of the disease and had extensive and constant coverage of previous two campaigns. When asked how health workers dealt with those who refused to vaccinate their children, Al Hamati answered that it depended on the communication skills and training of the health workers. Sometimes local councils were called upon to assist.

About the conflicting resources of news and the conflicted number of cases, Dr. Al Junaid said the official source is from the MoPHP which has been very frank about all the information. If some journalist collect news from sources other than the Ministry their information might not be correct. The MoPHP issues a weekly international bulletin about polio during in which all the cases and full details are announced. Al Junaid added that there is no use in hiding numbers or facts and everyone should work together as one team.

A reporter asked about the procedures taken with neighboring countries to stop the possible reentry of the disease. Dr. Al Junaid answered that the only way to stop the disease from spreading is through vaccination. If all target children are vaccinated routinely, they will have immunity against the disease. He added that there are coordination efforts with the Gulf States, WHO, UNICEF, Arab League, and all other regional organizations on means of combating the disease.

Another reported asked about the rights of those children who have been infected by the disease and the role of the Ministry to rehabilitate them. Dr. Nafisa Al Jaifay, Chairwoman of the Motherhood and Childhood Council, answered the question clarifying that all infected children are receiving rehabilitation treatment in many funds and social organizations that are devoted to these children.

At the end of the news conference, WHO Representative, Dr. Hashim Al zein, asked all the media reporters to check the website of the WHO to get the latest information about the Polio campaign. He added that there is a weekly news bulletin issued every Monday to disseminate information to all stakeholders including the media. He reiterated that everyone should work as one team to end the spread of this disastrous disease.

National Polio Campaign

June-July, 2005

As part of the national polio campaign taking place in June and July, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) requested assistance from USAID/Yemen to support the national campaign in all 12 districts of the Governorate of Al Jawf. The World Health Organization (WHO) had previously declared Yemen polio free until the first cases were confirmed earlier this year in Hodeida. According to WHO the polio virus first reappeared in Nigeria and traveled across Africa to Sudan and then to Yemen where there are close to 200 confirmed cases to date.

A number of donors are supporting this emergency campaign which intends to immunize all children under five through health workers who will visit every household in a door to door campaign. Bedouin and street children will also be identified and immunized. Each child will be counted and recorded; a second campaign will be held in July to administer the second dose to each of the children. The door to door method is the most effective way to assure protection of all the targeted age groups. Female health workers have been used to the extent possible.

As in other parts of the country, Al Jawf lacks a routine vaccination system. This current campaign represents the first time the majority of these children will be fully vaccinated against polio. USAID/Yemen is one of the few donors working in Al Jawf. Two of its health projects - Basic Health and Education (BHE), implemented by ADRA, and the Partner's for Health Reformplus (PHRplus), implemented by Abt Associates - are jointly conducting the polio campaign which has been well received by the citizens of Al Jawf.

Three hundred twenty-nine teams composed of volunteers and health and education officials, and a team of 95 supervisors from governorate and district health offices in addition to the EPI managers are working with the USAID projects to implement the campaign. Results are expected to indicate high coverage of the target group and should also establish a more credible database - information that will be critical for establishing a routine vaccination system that can provide better protection against polio and other preventable childhood diseases in the future.

Boy receiving polio vaccine Polio vaccine location Marking vaccinated children

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