Double vaccines ‘could hasten the end of polio’

This is an interesting piece on the current global fight against Polio, written by James Gallagher Health editor, BBC News website.

Using both types of polio vaccine could speed up efforts to free the world of the disease, research suggests.
The oral vaccine is leading the fight to eradicate polio, but trials in India show an additional injection of inactivated virus boosts immunity.
The World Health Organization said the findings, published in the journal Science, were “truly historic”.
The disease, which is spread through contaminated faeces, can cause paralysis and even death.
Fighting polio has been one of the biggest success stories in global health.
In 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in more than 125 countries.
The disease is now widespread in just three countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and cases have fallen by more than 99%.

Vaccines
Two drops of the oral vaccine, which contains a weakened polio virus, is the preferred tool in eradication efforts because it is cheap and gives resistance in the digestive tract to lower transmission of the virus.
The injected vaccine works largely in the bloodstream.
“But the oral vaccine is less effective in exactly those places we’d like it to work,” one of the researchers, Prof Nicholas Grassly, of Imperial College London, told the BBC.
It is thought other infections may interfere with the vaccine.
The solution has been multiple vaccination. As part of India’s successful eradication campaign, some children received 30 doses by the age of five.
Trials in India showed using an injection of inactivated virus as a booster jab was more effective than multiple drops.
However, the biggest challenge in banishing the disease for good is not the choice of vaccine, but getting to children in conflict-ridden areas.
The security issues can be huge and vaccination programmes are even used as a political weapon.
In 2012, the Taliban said vaccinations in the North and South Waziristan regions of Pakistan were banned until the US ended drone strikes.
Prof Grassly argues: “If you have limited access, you want the biggest return. If you can go in with inactivated and oral polio vaccine, you will achieve a lot more than if you just have brief access with oral polio vaccine.”
The double-vaccine approach is already being used in parts of Nigeria and will soon be introduced into Pakistan also.
Dr Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization assistant director general for polio, said: “The results of this study are truly historic in the context of global polio eradication.
“This study has revolutionised our understanding of inactivated polio vaccine and how to use it in the global eradication effort to ensure children receive the best and quickest protection possible from this disease.”

‘Most polio, meningitis victims are Muslims’ – Minister of Health in Nigeria

As reported by Daily Trust Nigeria Newspaper, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, yesterday said 98 percent of victims of polio and meningitis in the country are Muslims.
Addressing Muslim leaders on the polio vaccine during the central council meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), he said the diseases are prevalent among Muslims children because of the refusal of their parents to make them available during immunisation.
“The doubt raised in 2003 and 2004 (on vaccines) by people who don’t have scientific evidence are drawing us back,” he said.
“If people stop confusing parents to paralyse their children, we will not have polio cases again,” he added.
Declaring open the meeting, Kaduna state governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero said the survival of any group in the present global dynamics relies solely on the amount and quality of education available to it members.

WHO, Islamic Leaders Summit To Stop Polio Worker Attacks

Courtesy Of Channel Television:
Top World Health Organisation officials and Islamic leaders will meet in Egypt next week in an effort to stop attacks on polio workers, which are hampering the eradication of the virus in some countries with large Muslim populations.
“Shooting health workers who are protecting kids from this crippling disease is against the Koran and everything Islam stands for,” WHO’s Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward told Reuters in Canberra said on Friday.

Gunmen in Pakistan and Nigeria have killed more than 20 health workers in the past three months in a series of attacks linked to a backlash against the immunization program against the crippling virus.

“Muslim leaders have been great advocates of immunization and generally the support has always been there. In Cairo, we are meeting senior Islamic leaders to get a sense of what we can do, and ask them how can you help us,” said Aylward.

The WHO has successfully eliminated polio from most nations after a 25-year campaign, but the crippling condition remains endemic in three nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, where some influential Muslim leaders have opposed the program as a conspiracy of western medicine.

WHO remains on target to eradicate polio globally by 2018, Aylward said, despite a violent backlash from militant groups in Pakistan and Nigeria.

But there are also worrying signs of persistence, with the polio virus found in sewers in Cairo in January, with the type linked to the indigenous strain in Pakistan. Egypt has not had a case of polio since 2004.

Aylward said while the violence has forced the WHO to revise is approach to immunizations in both Pakistan and Nigeria.

“The goal is to put tools in the hands of the communities to immunize their own kids,” Aylward said.

“The overall risks (of contracting polio) are getting smaller, because we are finally getting into some of these difficult places,” he said.

Since 1988, the WHO has cut the number of global polio cases from 350,000 to just 225 in 2012, with India declared polio free in January 2012.

Nigerians travelling abroad to take polio vaccine by 2013- Ray Nihar of WHO

Just to share with you folks a report courtesy News Agency of Nigeria (NAN):
Nigerians travelling abroad in 2013, will be compelled to take polio vaccine.
From May 2013, Nigerians travelling abroad would be compelled to take the oral polio vaccine, an official of the World Health Organisation, WHO, Ray Nihar, said in Kaduna on Thursday.
Mr. Nihar said, at the monthly review meeting of traditional rulers in Kaduna involved in polio eradication campaign, that the WHO would issue a standing recommendation to all nations under the International Health Regulations.
He said children and adult travelling out of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan must be certified as having been vaccinated against polio “to reduce the substantial risk of the virus spreading to polio-free countries”.
He said the report issued by the International Monitory Board on Polio revealed that “too many communities” regard  polio vaccination as an imposition with no benefit.
He said eradication of the disease is vital in affected countries, adding that neighbouring countries would not be safe.
The Chairman, Kaduna State Action Committee on the Eradication of Polio, Mustapha Jumare, said insecurity and inaccessibility to certain areas affects total coverage.
He also blamed vaccinators for laxity, thereby retarding efforts at ending the disease.
The Chief of Kagoro, Afuwai Bonet, urged legislators to participate in the fight against polio in their respective constituencies.
Mr. Bonet said compelling Nigerians travelling abroad to take the vaccine would be an embarrassment to Nigeria including the legislators.

Polio Eradication: Bauchi earmarks N66m to immunize two million children

This is courtesy of Daily Trust Newspaper:
Bauchi State government has earmarked the sum of over N66 million for the 2012 polio immunization exercise targeting two million children in all the 20 local governments of the state.
The executive secretary of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency [SPHCDA] Dr Nisser Aliyu Umar disclosed this yesterday while briefing newsmen on the preparations made by the Agency for the exercise.

He explained that the money has been expended on the procurement of polio vaccines, payment of the immunization officers and the purchase of detergents that will be distributed to the parents who avail their children for immunization.

Umar explained that six local governments areas of the state comprising ,Gamawa, Bauchi, Ningi, Katagum, Shira and Misau are high risk areas adding that the Agency targets about 2 million children under the age of 5 years for this year’s immunization.

The Secretary noted that the state at present has only three cases of the Polio as against the year 2009 when it recorded about 37 cases of polio in communities across the state.

Umar revealed that the reduction was as a result of the steps taken by the state government to eradicate the plague through regular vaccinations.

He urged parents to contribute towards the success of the exercise by allowing their wards to be immunized saying the polio vaccine has no harmful effects on children.

Polio Eradication in Kano State – Kwankwaso fires dozens of officials handling Polio immunization

Another news piece on Polio courtesy of Daily Trust Newspaper:
Dozens of officials handling polio immunization in Kano State have been fired because they were using the exercise as a “money-making venture”, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has said.
Speaking on Saturday during the launch of a new phase of the polio immunisation exercise, the governor said he directed the replacement of all managerial officers because they were found to be engaged in corruption thereby retarding the anti-polio campaign.
Kwankwaso did not give a specific number of the officials affected, but he said they were of the level of director downwards at the state level as well as immunisation officers of the 44 local government areas.
Polio is surging in parts of the North, after years of efforts to eradicate it appeared to be working. Stakeholders in the campaign, which receives international donor funding, last year set 2013 as end date for the disease.
But experts are skeptical of this dateline, as polio stages a comeback in Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi and other states in the North.
Kwankwaso said he was worried that efforts to eradicate polio were not yielding the desired success.
He said there were still pockets of rejection of the polio vaccine in parts of the state, and warned that his administration will take measures to enforce the immunisation to save vulnerable children.
Nigeria is among the only three polio-endemic nations in the world, the others being Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Years of campaign to eradicate the disease in Nigeria were sabotaged by suspicion of vaccine contamination in 2004, which led to massive boycott of immunisation.
The rejections have waned in many places, and over the past two years stakeholders were upbeat on the eradication process.
But this year has seen many new infections in several states of the North.

Polio Eradication: “a Global Public Health Emergency”!

The 65th WHA has declared Polio eradication a “Global Public Health Emergency” the statement is weighty, Here’s a quick summary of the implications of the World Health Assembly’s Resolution:
1.) Polio eradication has reached a tipping point. While the world is more than 99% of the way towards eradicating the disease, a funding shortfall has already caused vaccination activities to have been cut back – putting vulnerable communities at risk from the disease.
2.) If we fail to eradicate polio, the consequences will be disastrous. Research has shown that the world would soon see more than 200,000 cases a year. This is why the continued transmission of polio is now an emergency.
3.) This resolution gives countries greater powers to combat polio. For instance, they can choose to require travellers to and from polio-infected countries to be vaccinated against polio. Polio-infected countries have been urged to draw up emergency action plans for combating the virus.
4.) The resolution also calls for the World Health Organization’s 194 Member States to fully fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Declaring polio an emergency for global public health is an important step forward, yet we will only see the end of polio if the funding gap is filled. This is why we are asking world leaders to go beyond words and ensure that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is fully funded.
We are about the end of the Q2 2012, the number WPVs are 30 already, Unless our politicians and other leadership are serious, only then perhaps, the target of 2012 is already a mirage.