WHO starts emergency polio talks

April 28, 2014

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)."

Explore further: 'Endgame' strategy aims to end polio outbreaks in 2014 (Update)

Related Stories

UN launches polio vaccination campaign in Mideast

November 9, 2013

The United Nations says a massive campaign to vaccinate children in the Middle East against polio has begun after the first cases in 14 years were confirmed in northeastern Syria last week.

Polio returns to Afghan capital after 13 years

February 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

Cellphone data can track infectious diseases

August 20, 2015

Tracking mobile phone data is often associated with privacy issues, but these vast datasets could be the key to understanding how infectious diseases are spread seasonally, according to a study published in the Proceedings ...

0 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.