UN agencies caution against complacency as polio outbreak eases off in Horn of Africa

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Polio vaccination campaign

Two United Nations agencies have cautioned against complacency as a polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa tapers off.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) say it has been six months since the outbreak hit the region, affecting some 200 children and adults.

Today, the agencies note, the progression of the outbreak has significantly eased, thanks to the rapid response by the region's governments and their partners.

They say that after several rounds of immunization campaigns in Somalia which had most of the polio cases, there has been a substantial decline with no cases reported since July from Banadir region – the epicentre of the outbreak.

According to WHO and UNICEF, similar efforts in Kenya have also borne results, and no new cases have been reported for the past three months.

In Ethiopia, they add, the outbreak has been confined to the Somali region alone.

However, the agencies warn that the risk of the virus continuing to spread remains high in the region.

UNICEF and WHO says they require at least $88 million to support governments' polio eradication efforts in 2014 and maintain the momentum built over the last six months.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’11″

 

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