Polio outbreak'

New cases in Africa trigger alarm

Published: Thursday 30 September 2004

The threat of a polio outbreak looms over west and central Africa. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), an international campaign, issued this warning following the confirmation of one new polio case in Guinea and two in Mali. The disease had been eradicated from both the countries five years ago. With these new cases, 12 countries have been re-infected with the virus following the ban on polio vaccine in parts of northern Nigeria in 2003 (see: 'Ominous Sign', Down To Earth, April 15, 2004).

The ban was lifted last month. But the GPEI says 346 polio cases have already been reported in 2004. Three new polio cases have also been detected in Sudan's Darfur region, in the news for the ongoing ethnic cleansing. The GPEI also says there is an acute lack of funds for the immunisation campaign to be conducted in 22 African countries later this year.

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