WHO starts emergency polio talks

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it had convened emergency talks amid rising concern over polio after cases were discovered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Equatorial Guinea.

The UN health agency said that following several days of closed-door discussions, it would decide whether to declare the new spread of polio a " of international concern" that could require measures such as .

WHO emergency meetings typically take the form of telephone conferences between experts and officials around the globe, steered from the agency's Geneva headquarters.

Polio, a crippling and potentially fatal viral disease that mainly affects children under the age of five, has come close to being beaten as the result of a 25-year effort.

The number of recorded cases worldwide has fallen from 350,000 in 1988 to 406 in 2013, according to WHO data.

Polio is currently endemic in three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, down from 125 in 1988.

"However, wild poliovirus continues to spread internationally from both endemic and re-infected countries," the WHO said.

"Between January and April 2014, in what is usually the low season for poliovirus transmission, three new international wild poliovirus importation events have been detected, one each in Asia (Pakistan to Afghanistan), the Middle East (Syria to Iraq) and central Africa (Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea)."

Related Stories

Polio returns to Afghan capital after 13 years

date Feb 11, 2014

Afghanistan has launched an emergency polio vaccination campaign in Kabul after a girl contracted the disease, the city's first case since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Recommended for you

Cancer drug shows promise as cure for hepatitis B

date 11 hours ago

Australian scientists have found a potential cure for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections, with a promising new treatment proving 100 per cent successful in eliminating the infection in preclinical models.

One test for all infections

date 13 hours ago

If you're returning from abroad with a fever, your doctor will likely test you for malaria. You'll give multiple blood samples at the lab, and if the results are inconclusive, you'll face yet another round of tests.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.