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Polio strikes Indonesia

NEW YORK, 3 May 2005 - One decade after recording the last case of polio in Indonesia, a 20 month-old girl from Sukabumi district in West Java has been paralysed by poliovirus type one (P1).  She had never been immunized against polio.  Several more suspected cases have been identified in the immediate area and are being investigated.

The virus is related to the West African virus currently causing an epidemic across Africa. The ongoing outbreak has so far re-infected 15 formerly polio-free countries and re-established transmission in six of them.

Partners in the global polio eradication initiative, including UNICEF, are supporting the Indonesian Ministry of Health to respond to the outbreak. An emergency immunization campaign will aim to reach 5.2 million children in West Java, Banten and Jakarta provinces.  The response is expected to cost in the range of US $2.4 million.

Early investigations show that the virus was imported into Indonesia from Africa.  Events like this are not uncommon during eradication efforts. Polio does not respect national borders and travels with ease. As long as the virus persists anywhere, all un-immunized children are at risk. 

Long-distance importations such as this one have historically been stopped quickly. But countries in the region are being urged to strengthen their routine immunization and disease surveillance.  Routine immunization for all children is the best national defence against polio importations. This is particularly true in countries that may not have held mass immunization campaigns against polio in the recent past. Surveillance for the disease is also critical to catching any cases early and responding appropriately.

All countries will remain at risk until the polio reservoirs in the endemic countries (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan, Egypt) are eliminated. 
Further information: http://www.polioeradication.org/
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF.  The polio eradication coalition includes governments of countries affected by polio; private sector foundations (e.g. United Nations Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation); development banks (e.g. the World Bank); donor governments (e.g. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand,  Norway, Portugal, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America); the European Commission; humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations (e.g. the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies) and corporate partners (e.g. Sanofi Pasteur, De Beers, Wyeth). Volunteers in developing countries also play a key role; 20 million have participated in mass immunization campaigns.




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