Third nationwide polio drive in Indonesia in attempt to eliminate the disease

Indonesia which is still battling to eliminate the recurring outbreak of polio, will hold a third nationwide polio immunisation drive in November to try to finally stamp out the crippling disease.

Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said this week that $12 million would be needed for the campaign.

The government had previously said that it would only consider holding another mass vaccination after two previous nationwide drives in recent months, but international health agencies have successfully pressured for more.

Since May this year there have been 264 polio cases in Indonesia, when the disease re-emerged after being eradicated from the world's fourth most populous country a decade ago.

Supari says the two earlier immunisation campaigns, reached 97.4 percent of the targeted 24 million children across Indonesia.

However, two more provinces, Aceh and Riau, both on Sumatra island, have since been affected by the disease.

According to Supari the polio virus that hit Indonesia has been proven to have a high rate of attack.

The emergence of new cases means the third round is important says David Hipgrave, chief for health and nutrition at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Indonesia.

Hipgrave says that overall, there has success in the first two rounds, but there are still some new cases of polio being diagnosed, and new provinces are affected.

Bardan Jung Rana, polio group leader for the World Health Organisation in Jakarta, says Indonesia is on the right track to stamp out the water-borne disease that can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.

The global battle against polio has faced setbacks in the past two years when Nigeria's northern state of Kano banned immunisation out of fear it could cause sterility or spread HIV/AIDS.

Fortunately vaccinations resumed after a 10-month ban.

But by then the virus had spread across Africa, crossed the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and reached Indonesia, infecting previously polio-free countries along the way.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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