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Health Leaders Vow to Meet Polio Eradication Goal

Following a year in which Africa grappled with an escalating polio epidemic, ministers of health of the key affected countries have concluded that the spread of polio was slowing in most countries.
19 January 2005 - CISA

They agreed to step up their vigilance and their vaccination programmes in
order to meet polio eradication targets this during 2005.

The 2005 eradication strategy for Africa, established by Health Ministers
of eight African countries at the World Health Organization's headquarters
in Geneva, involves a massive series of immunization campaigns across 25
countries, supported by strengthened polio surveillance.

"Cases began to rise during 2003 following a suspension of polio
immunization activities in parts of Nigeria. The upswing rapidly reached
epidemic proportions, propelled by low immunization rates across the
region. The continent is further threatened by the swift spread of the
epidemic in Sudan in late 2004 and the halt of immunization activities in
Côte d'Ivoire due to civil unrest," said a joint statement issued on
January 13, 2005 by several organizations, among them the World Health
Organization (WHO) and Rotary International.

Following resumed polio immunization in Nigeria's northern State of Kano in
mid-2004, Africa held the world's largest series of immunization
activities, synchronized across 23 African countries, reaching 80 million
children.

"These campaigns have begun to rein in the epidemic. In northern Nigeria,
independent monitoring shows that nearly 75 per cent of children were
vaccinated against polio, the highest numbers ever for the area," said the
statement.

Despite spread of the virus to Sudan and Saudi Arabia, ministers are now
optimistic about wiping out the paralysing disease.

At the upcoming African Union summit in Abuja (29-30 January) the
continent's heads of state are expected to announce a ramp-up of action and
to vow to increase independent monitoring of immunization activities to
ensure quality coverage.

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