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Polio Continues To Haunt India

India along with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria is a polio-endemic country, according to an UN report. These nations are yet to stop the indigenous polio transmission, according to the report. // A new vaccine initiative to target remaining strains of the virus has also been announced.

The report comes as polio eradication efforts enter a new phase with the next-generation vaccines targeting the two surviving strains, namely poliovirus types 1 and 3.In 2006, monovalent vaccines, aimed at individual virus strains, will be the primary platform for eradication in all remaining polio-affected areas, said the statement.

The core partners in polio eradication are WHO, Rotary International, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF. Despite the fact that polio is still endemic in India and Pakistan, the number of cases in both countries in the last quarter in 2005 fell by more than half compared with the previous year. This is due to more effective immunization strategies and the use of the monovalent vaccines.

Egypt and Niger are the two countries that defeated indigenous polio over the last 12 months or so due to multiple immunization campaigns. In 2005, all the nine polio cases reported in Niger were imported over the heavily traveled border with Nigeria, the world's largest reservoir of poliovirus.

The UN partners have called on governments to remain vigilant and continue their eradication efforts. Critical to the success of these campaigns is a $150 million shortfall, which must be filled as rapidly as possible. The eradication effort requires a further $425 million for the 2007-2008 period, according to the UN.

Edited (IANS)

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