Just when we thought the world to be Polio-free, the disease is back— and seems to be out for revenge.
Recently, reports flooded the doors of the WHO claiming Polio had once again infiltrated the public health system in ten countries around the globe. Two years ago, the disease was thought to be a thing of the past, especially after it was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in India last year. The WHO, after getting wind of this outbreak, called an international health emergency on Monday in an attempt to contain the paralyzing disease; unfortunately, the disease had already made its way into the Middle East once again, and is recorded uprising in 10 states as of today: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia.
The WHO convened its emergency committee in Geneva, and announced that Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon had allowed the virus to spread to the extremities of its nation. With this news circulating throughout neighboring countries, the WHO is on high-alert to do whatever it takes to support these fragile nation’s in their attempt to fight back against this crippling illness.
“The consequences of further international spread are particularly acute today given the large number of polio-free but conflict-torn and fragile states which have severely compromised routine immunization services and are at high risk of re-infection,” the World Health Organization said in a statement on its website announcing the emergency.
A revisited emphasis on vaccination, for those children inoculated already and not, will be led by Dr. Bruce Aylward, as he and the WHO lead the crusade against Polio eradication hopefully once and for all. In a recent telephone conference, Dr. Aylward stated that he believes citizens of those countries who travel abroad should be vaccinated before and after the arrive/depart, and should simultaneously carry an international recognized certificate as proof of the preventative vaccination.
“Though the disease primarily strikes children under 6, the committee said there was ‘increasing evidence that adult travelers contributed’ to the recent spread of polio from Pakistan to Afghanistan, from Syria to Iraq, and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea during what health officials said was the low season for polio transmission, between January and April,” the New York Times reports, “Ten countries are now affected by the new wild polio virus, Dr. Aylward said, including those six as well as Ethiopia, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia. In Israel, he said, there were no confirmed human cases of the disease, but that a Pakistan strain of the virus had been detected in the country’s sewage.”
In addition to vaccination cards, vaccination campaigns and heightened international attention to the Polio issue, The WHO is taking charge at international airports in order to insist upon the severity of this issue. Saira Afzal Tarar, the Pakistani state minister of health, was quoted saying that Pakistan’s government would announce its strategy to combat the disease after meetings with provincial officials later this week, and that they fully support the WHO’s vaccination efforts. As Pakistan gears up to help fight this epidemic, the WHO and public health officials everywhere hope other affected nations take to this example and crush this re-circulating disease before it has a chance to spread further.