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  • WHO prepares for final push to rid the world of polio


The newly appointed director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Lee Jong-wook, has launched a three-month mass vaccination campaign to eliminate polio transmission by the end of 2004. The campaign will cover 175 million children in India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt.

Lee says that the eradication of polio — a fight that is nearly won — is one of his top priorities, but that more funds are needed to do the job properly.

The number of cases has been slashed from 350,000 in 125 countries in 1988 to just 235 in seven countries this year. But officials warn that any complacency threatens to undo years of gains. They say that sources of potential new outbreaks — such as the widely used oral polio vaccine, and poliovirus stocks held in laboratories across the world — must be contained before polio can be declared eradicated.

Link to Nature news story

Reference: Nature, 7 August 2003

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