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Polio spread in Cameroon - which borders troubled CAR - a concern: WHO expert

The Canadian official who heads the WHO's polio eradication effort says of the many challenges facing the quarter-century-old program, evidence of polio in Cameroon — which borders on the troubled Central African Republic — is currently one of the most concerning. The polio eradication campaign has faced a number of significant setbacks in the past year or so, with outbreaks in the Horn of Africa — Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia — as well as war-torn Syria.

Mass polio vaccine campaign launched after Iraq case

Authorities launched a massive polio vaccination campaign on Sunday in Iraq, Syria and Egypt after health officials found a suspected case of the virus in a young boy near Baghdad. The five-day campaign aims to vaccinate more than 20 million children, including 5.6 million in Iraq alone, UNICEF said, with confirmed cases in conflict-hit neighbouring Syria having sparked a region-wide alert. "Polio eradication is a global priority," UNICEF's representative in Iraq Marzio Babille said in a statement.

Pakistan to vaccinate 750,000 children in troubled northwest

Pakistani health teams will Sunday launch a drive to vaccinate some 750,000 children in the troubled northwest, with thousands of police guarding against attacks by militants who claim the polio campaign is a front for spying. The campaign in Peshawar district, which covers Peshawar city and dozens of towns and villages, is the ninth phase of a push to eradicate polio in Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.

WHO certifies India, other Asian nations polio free

The World Health Organisation officially certified India and 10 other Asian countries free of polio on Thursday, a milestone lauded as a "momentous victory" over an ancient scourge. The Southeast Asian region, which includes India but excludes Afghanistan and Pakistan, was certified by a panel of experts after the countries went three years without reporting a single new case. The WHO said the certification meant 80 percent of the world's population lived in polio-free regions and was an important step towards global eradication of the crippling disease.

India declared polio-free, but global risks persist

By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI, March 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The World Health Organization declared India free of the crippling polio virus on Thursday, making the country's almost two-decade-long, multi-billion-dollar effort one of the biggest public health achievements in recent times. India's last case of the wild polio virus was detected in January 2011 in a two-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal. Three years without any new cases means a country can be certified as polio-free.

Pakistan police find body of kidnapped health worker

Police Monday found the bullet-riddled body of a kidnapped female health worker dumped in a field in northwest Pakistani on Monday, an official said. Salma Ghani, about 32 years old, was taken by five unidentified men from outside her house in Peshawar, the main city in northwest Pakistan, on Sunday. Senior police official Rahim Shah told AFP Ghani's body had been recovered from a wheat field on the edge of the city. She had been shot several times, he said. "It is not yet clear whether she was killed for taking part in polio vaccination drives," Shah said.

Attack on polio team kills two policemen in NW Pakistan

Two policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan were were shot dead by armed men on Tuesday, police said, the latest setback to efforts to eradicate the crippling disease. Militant strikes and threats of violence have badly hampered a campaign to stamp out polio in Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.

Save the Children describes healthcare disaster in Syria

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Newborns freezing to death in hospital incubators, doctors cutting off limbs to stop patients from bleeding to death, surging cases of polio: a new report published on Monday paints a dire picture of Syria's collapsing healthcare system. The report, issued by charity Save the Children, said some 60 percent of Syria's hospitals have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the three-year-old conflict and nearly half of its doctors have fled the country.

10 million children in Mideast to get polio vaccine

Millions of children in the Middle East will be vaccinated against polio this month after the crippling disease resurfaced in conflict-hit Syria, the United Nations said Sunday. Mass vaccinations have already been launched in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, while a similar campaign in Lebanon will start on March 9, the UN Children's Fund Unicef said in a statement. "Polio does not respect borders," said Ala Alwan, World Health Organisation regional director for the eastern Mediterranean.

Three bomb blasts targeting Pakistan polio team kill 12

Twelve people were killed and 11 injured when three roadside bombs targeting a polio vaccination team in Pakistan's restive northwest exploded Saturday, officials said, in the latest attack on efforts to combat the crippling disease. Militant strikes and threats of violence have badly hampered campaigns to stamp out polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the disease remains endemic.
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