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article imageThe final steps to be taken to eliminate worldwide polio

By Tim Sandle     Nov 3, 2014 in Health
Bethesda - Polio has almost been eliminated from the world and just two countries remain endemic: Afghanistan and Nigeria, with cases also high in parts of Pakistan. A new report considers how the final steps can be taken to eliminate the disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), polio is nearly eradicated, with the number of cases limited to a few hundred each year. Poliomyelitis (polio) is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route. In around one percent of infections, poliovirus spreads along certain nerve fiber pathways, preferentially replicating in and destroying motor neurons within the spinal cord, brain stem, or motor cortex. This leads to the development of paralytic poliomyelitis.
With global cases there are two of the remaining endemic countries: Afghanistan and Nigeria. Health agencies are taking steps to eliminate the virus from these territories. The main obstacle to this, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is Pakistan.
The report argues that risks of importations from Pakistan continue to threaten the Middle East and Asia. The report goes on to assert that unless Pakistan makes a strong effort to control polio virus spread within its borders, then the global efforts to eradicate polio will be undermined. In Pakistan, 93 polio cases were reported in 2013, compared with 58 cases in 2012. So far in 2014, 170 cases were reported (January–August) compared with 33 cases during the same period in 2013.
Moreover, the report concludes, every year that eradication of polio is delayed, this costs the United Nations up to $1 billion per year.
The reasons for the problem at the Afghanistan and Pakistan border is attributed to conflict and lack of government action. The way forwards, the report argues, that the countries need to strengthen surveillance, increase cross border collaboration.
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