- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal of US$2.1 million to help 14 African countries to respond to polio outbreak.
The IFRC has warned that if the outbreak which has threatened the global eradication campaign and puts many children’s life in danger, could have devastating effects for Africa as a whole.
IFRC senior officer for health in emergencies Dr Tammam Aloudat said the organisation has clear indications that polio is spreading again in central Africa especially in Uganda which has been polio-free for more than a decade.
"We need to act now by reinforcing emergency vaccination campaigns before efforts made over the last 20 years to eradicate polio are severely set back by this series of outbreaks," Mr Aloudat said in a statement.
The disease has reportedly spread from Nigeria and the south of Sudan to 15 other African countries, including Angola, Uganda and Congo where the disease had been reported eradicated last year.
Local reports said polio cases resurfaced again last year in Nigeria, re-infecting surrounding countries in West Africa.
Persistent outbreaks of wild polio virus are also ongoing in Angola, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, threatening surrounding countries.
Reports said several years ago, northern Nigeria's reluctance to immunise its children against polio caused the wild virus to spread to neighbouring countries. Religious and political leaders suspended vaccinations claiming the polio vaccine was contaminated and could spread HIV/AIDS and sterilise girls.
Dr Aloudat said the spread of most of these recent cases of polio also comes from Nigeria, the last endemic country in Africa. He said there is still reluctance in some parts of Nigeria to immunise children against polio.
Funds raised will reinforce the training and mobilisation of thousands of volunteers throughout the continent to ensure that as many children as possible can be reached for vaccination, according to the Geneva-based organisation.
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