Polio Round-up: [to 8 February 2014]

Update: Polio this week – As of 5 February 2014
Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Full report: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx
[Editor’s extract and bolded text]
:: In a commentary piece published last week in the Lancet, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan, and WHO Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration Dr Bruce Aylward, outline the challenges to meet the country’s health needs, and what WHO and its partners are doing to urgently support regional polio outbreak response activities. More.
:: Pakistan remains the only country with areas of uncontrolled transmission of polio, particularly in parts of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. More than 80% of cases in Pakistan since September are from these areas.
:: Three new WPV1 cases were reported in the past week, two from North Waziristan in FATA (with onset of paralysis on 10 and 16 January 2014), and one from greater Karachi, Sindh (with onset of paralysis on 31 December 2013). The total number of cases for 2013 is 93. The total number of cases in 2014 is seven. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 16 January 2014 (WPV1 from North Waziristan)…
:: North Waziristan is the district with the largest number of children being paralyzed by poliovirus in the world (both wild and VDPV2). Immunization activities have been suspended by local leaders since June 2012. It is critical that children in all areas are vaccinated and protected from poliovirus. Immunizations in neighbouring high-risk areas are being intensified, to further boost population immunity levels in those areas and prevent further spread of this outbreak.
:: Since September, 67 WPV1 cases have been reported from Pakistan, 55 of them from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. North Waziristan has had 35 of the country’s 93 WPV1 cases in 2013 and all seven WPV1 cases in 2014. Additionally, North Waziristan had 38 of the country’s 45 cVDPV2 cases in 2013, and one from 2014.
:: Peshawar is considered to be the main engine of transmission, alongside North Waziristan, due to large-scale population movements through Peshawar from across this region, and into other areas of Pakistan. The quality of operations must be urgently improved in Peshawar, and immunizations resumed in North Waziristan.
:: However, at the same time, concerning trends have been noted in greater Karachi, Sindh, in Quetta, Balochistan, and environmental positives isolates from every major city of Punjab confirm widespread virus circulation.

UN: Polio vaccination campaign begins at besieged Palestinian refugee camp in Syria
5 February 2014 – The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees said today it has begun a large-scale polio vaccination campaign targeting thousands of children in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and its partners have been attempting for months to take desperately needed aid, particularly food and medicines, to Yarmouk, whose 18,000 residents have been trapped for months amid the ongoing conflict in Syria.

“We are pleased to announce that UNRWA has secured the formal authorization for the transfer of 10,000 polio vaccines to Yarmouk Camp in Damascus,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the Agency.

“This process has been completed without incident and the vaccination of thousands children in the camp is now underway”…

Pakistan: Government vows to eradicate polio in 2014
The International News
February 06, 2014   From Print Edition

UNITED NATIONS: Despite the security challenges, Ambassador Masood Khan has told a United Nations panel that Pakistan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, hopes to eradicate polio in 2014.

“We have come a long way in eliminating polio from the country,” he told the UNICEF Executive Board which opened this year’s first session on Tuesday.

“Almost 95 percent of the country is now polio free. More is needed, however, the Pakistani envoy said. “We are therefore now implementing an augmented National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) to eradicate polio in 2014,” he told delegates.

“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is leading the efforts to eradicate polio which threatens our future generations. To accomplish this mission, the prime minister has created a Polio Eradication Cell in his office and has designated a focal point to coordinate actions between the federal, provincial and local governments.”

The Pakistani envoy said President Mamnoon Hussain launched immunization programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last month by convening a Grand Jirga where he secured the support of local community, specially Ulema and tribal leaders.

“Despite security challenges, our valiant polio workers continue to perform their tasks with devotion and dedication,” Masood Khan said. “We salute their perseverance and commitment. We condemn terrorist attacks against them. We pay a tribute to the volunteers who have lost their lives while eradicating the menace of polio from our country.”…

The Lawrence Ellison Foundation announced a planned gift of US$100 million over five years to support global polio eradication, noting that roughly US$20 million of that contribution was delivered in 2013. The donation will help fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI) $5.5 billion six-year plan to eradicate polio.