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July 1999

Short news items with a Post-Polio element gleaned from 'here, there and everywhere'. Contributions welcomed. Email Please make it clear that your news item is for inclusion in NewsBites and include any source references.

28th July 1999
UN Secretary-General's Statement on Polio Vaccinations in Congo.

The following report, reproduced here in full, was published by the United States Information Agency ( on 26th July 1999.

Text: Secretary-General's Statement on Polio Vaccinations in Congo.

(July 22 U.N. press release) (380)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on July 22 urged all parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cease hostilities during the first round of polio vaccinations, scheduled for August 8-20.

Following is the text of a U.N. press release on Annan's statement, released in New York:

(begin text)

22 July 1999

Press Release


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General urges all parties concerned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cease hostilities throughout the country before and during the first polio vaccination round from 8 to 20 August. He trusts that a peaceful and secure environment will be provided to give all Congolese children under the age of five protection from the crippling disease of polio.

The Secretary-General reiterates his statement of 9 March, in which he called for "days of tranquillity" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow for the polio immunization campaign to cover some 10 million children under the age of five. He recalls Security Council resolution 1234 of 9 April 1999 urging all parties to respect a truce and support the vaccination campaign.

The Secretary-General also recalls President Kabila's commitment to support the vaccination campaign and the willingness expressed by the leadership of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) to his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to facilitate the campaign.

United Nations agencies, in particular the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with other humanitarian partners, are proceeding with preparation for the vaccination campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The first round is scheduled to start on 13 August. Two more rounds are scheduled for September and October.

The Secretary-General is grateful for the practical assistance to the campaign preparation provided by local authorities. Thanks to a concerted effort of United Nations agencies, NGOs and provincial health personnel, 16,000 vaccination sites have been identified for the campaign. Logistical and security constraints, however, remain in many areas.

(end text)

The USIA Washington File provides United States Government official texts, policy statements and interpretive material, features, and byline articles prepared daily by the United States Information Agency. That material may be freely reproduced and distributed.

The original article may be located by using appropriate terms to search the Washington File archives, a subset of the PDQ (Public Diplomacy Query) database. A search form is available at

The UN Press release was also featured in Africa News Online ( The full text of that article can be found at

Notification of the above news items was received via NewsIndex

For Polio eradication and vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

[ Index ]

23rd July 1999
UNICEF reports on Polio Eradication.

A UNICEF press release dated 22nd July 1999 (pre-released but embargoed until yesterday) has triggered a flurry of news articles. The most detailed is published by the United States Information Agency ( and is reproduced here in full.

22 July 1999.

Polio Close to Being Eradicated, UNICEF Reports.

(1999 "Progress of Nations" report released) (1110)
By Judy Aita,
USIA United Nations Correspondent.

United Nations -- The total eradication of polio is extremely close to becoming a reality, says UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. Polio was once a scourge that killed or crippled half a million people a year, many of them children.

Introducing the report, The Progress of Nations 1999, at a July 22 press conference, Bellamy said that "in 1990, when the international community vowed to eradicate polio by the end of the year 2000, there were 35,000 confirmed cases of the disease. Last year, there were only about 6,000 cases, according to the World Health Organization ... nearly all of them were concentrated in 13 countries mostly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East."

"The Progress of Nations" is UNICEF's annual survey of progress toward child rights and women's rights. Bellamy called it a "report card or status report" on where countries stand in terms of pursuing the goals of the 1990 World Summit for Children such as education, especially the education of girls; elimination of malnutrition; availability of clean water, and the reduction of iodine deficiency diseases.

The 1999 report focused on the eradication of polio as a "call to action" to mobilize efforts finish the job in the remaining 527 days until the end of the year 2000, Bellamy said.

The only dreaded disease to have been totally eradicated is smallpox, which was wiped out more than two decades ago.

"Sometime this year, if not already," Bellamy said, "the world's population will reach the six billion mark. And as UNICEF reports in The Progress of Nations, a massive final push is needed if that six billionth child is to grow up in a world free of polio, much less cope with the overwhelming likelihood that he or she will be born into a life marked by malnutrition, inadequate or no schooling, poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water."

Polio, which has no cure, has been preventable since the development of a vaccine more than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, between 10 million and 20 million people around the world are currently paralyzed by the disease, UNICEF says.

Bellamy said that since 1988, the number of polio cases decreased by 86 percent as the result of the use of the oral polio vaccine and a combination of routine immunizations and "national immunization days," during which thousands of health volunteers fan out across regions or even entire countries to deliver the oral vaccine to all children under five years of age regardless of how remote or isolated their villages may be.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said that "beating polio worldwide isn't just a humanitarian gesture, but an investment in the health of our own children."

"Thanks to massive immunization efforts, we've entirely erased polio from the Western Hemisphere, East Asia, and the Pacific Basin. More than 150 countries around the world are polio-free today," Shalala said.

But the Secretary stressed that the numbers are "not good enough" because "the bottom line is that infectious diseases know no borders."

"So long as polio exists anywhere, it poses a threat to children everywhere," Shalala said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are providing over $90 million in 1999 alone for vaccines and technical support to combat polio around the world, she added.

Bellamy said that the polio eradication effort is being carried out in collaboration with the World Health organization (WHO), Rotary International, CDC and other government and private agencies. It will cost $1,250 million to finish the job, but $750 million has already been pledged.

UNICEF said that the countries which will be focused on in the battle against polio are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Nigeria.

But the country-by-country report also says that while one of the most feared childhood diseases is close to elimination, the health of children around the world is more precarious than a decade ago.

A major problem is the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Bellamy said.

She said that in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, "there is not just an HIV crisis, but a broad-scale, interlinked emergency involving not only HIV infection itself, but tuberculosis, which is facilitated by HIV, and by malaria, which kills nearly 3,000 children a day in Africa alone."

The report offers a devastating picture of the destructiveness and loss of life caused by HIV/AIDS. Some 16,000 people are infected by HIV every day and there are 8.2 million AIDS orphans in developing countries.

The UNICEF report said that AIDS orphans have "alarming high rates of malnutrition, stunting, and illiteracy. Often their community shuns them...often (they) must should heavier workloads and are treated more harshly than a foster family's own children."

In Botswana, for example, AIDS will be responsible for 64 percent of the deaths of children under five by the year 2000, offsetting much of the country's child health progress. In South Africa and Zimbabwe, AIDS is projected to account for a 100 percent increase in child mortality, the report said.

HIV/AIDS is increasing the price of health care and reducing its availability, the report noted. For example, in Zimbabwe AIDS is expected to consume 60 percent of the health budget by the year 2005.

In the developing world, "the silent, voracious epidemic is wiping out the historic gains of the public health and economic development efforts of the last 20 years," the report said.

The report also highlights a new statistical yardstick called the "child risk measure" (CRM) based on such factors as armed conflict, prevalence of HIV/AIDS, incidence of underweight children, under-five mortality, and primary school attendance. It is a new attempt to capture in numbers some of the risks children faces until the age of 18.

In the index, a child faces the highest risk, an average of 61, in sub-Saharan Africa. Angola has the highest CRM with 96, followed by Sierra Leone with 95, and Somalia with 92. A child in Europe faces the lowest risk at 6.

Shalala also pointed out that the United States is making an "unprecedented commitment," particularly on research at the National Institutes of Health as well as CDC, "to go after the age-old diseases that kill millions of people like malaria, and tuberculosis ... diseases that we really need to know much more about and develop a strategy."

The United States "intends to really take on some of the things that haven't been taken on before with such a huge financial and personnel commitment," the Secretary said.

The USIA Washington File provides United States Government official texts, policy statements and interpretive material, features, and byline articles prepared daily by the United States Information Agency. That material may be freely reproduced and distributed.

The original article may be located by using appropriate terms to search the Washington File archives, a subset of the PDQ (Public Diplomacy Query) database. A search form is available at

Other news sources have reported the same press release and conference with differing 'spins'. A selection are listed here:

Conflict, money endanger polio campaign.
Associated Press / The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Actress Mia Farrow Joins Fight Against Polio.
Reuters / Yahoo Daily News

Polio's eradication just out of reach, U.N. says.
Associated Press / The Dallas Morning News

Assault On Polio Slowed By War And Debt, UNICEF
Reuters / Fox News Online

Notification of the above news items was received via NewsIndex

For Polio eradication and vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

[ Index ]

21st July 1999
Conference and Seminar News.

PPS from Head to Toe: Everything You Need to Know
November 13, 1999 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Marietta, Georgia, U.S.A.

The Atlanta Post-Polio Association is presenting a one-day seminar on post-polio syndrome entitled PPS From Head to Toe: Everything You Need to Know at the Marietta Conference Center & Resort, 500 Powder Springs Street in Marietta, Georgia.

Featured speaker is Dr. Richard L. Bruno, internationally acknowledged as the foremost expert on post-polio syndrome. He is currently director of The Post-Polio Institute at New Jersey's Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Morning session will be a report of Dr. Bruno's and Dr. Nancy Frick's 1995 International PPS Survey. The afternoon session will be entitled PPS from Head to Toe and will include information about research that Dr. Bruno and Dr. Frick have done regarding PPS during the past 16 years and other important PPS research findings.

Cost for the seminar is $25 by September 15th and $35 late registration after September 15th. Seating is limited, be sure to register early. Registration includes lunch and materials. Be looking for your registration brochure and registration form in the mail soon. For more information, call APPA at 404-350-7631 or e-mail

The above text is from the latest Atlanta Post-Polio Association Newsletter due to be distributed next week and is published with their permission.

For updated information on this seminar see Card #0009 in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary

Articles by both Dr. Bruno and Dr. Frick can be found in our Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library. See the catalogues for:
Bruno, Richard L., Ph.D.
Frick, Nancy M., M.Div, Lh.D.

See also our Directory entries for:
The Post-Polio Institute, Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center Dr. Bruno
The Harvest Center Drs. Bruno and Frick
The Atlanta Post-Polio Association.

[ Index ]

16th July 1999
SmithKline Beecham submits new combination vaccine to US FDA for approval.

SmithKline Beecham, the British pharmaceutical company is seeking U.S. approval for a new combination vaccine for five childhood diseases - diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and hepatitis B - which would reduce the number of shots babies need in their first year of life.

The company have issued the following press release:

Philadelphia, PA, July 15, 1999 - SmithKline Beecham announced today that it has submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV, a new combination vaccine to protect infants against five potentially deadly diseases in just one injection series -- thereby reducing the number of shots that would be required.

This first-of-a-kind combination vaccine would reduce by two-thirds the number of shots a child should receive in the first year of life to gain protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B and polio. Currently, up to nine shots are needed to offer this protection; only three shots would be needed with the use of InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV.

"Numerous injections can be discomforting for children, parents and medical practitioners, and are one of the primary reasons that immunization rates against deadly diseases are not higher. Combination vaccines such as this, if approved, should make it easier to protect children against these serious diseases," said Thelma Thiel, chairman and CEO, Hepatitis Foundation International, a non-profit organization working to boost immunization rates.

In accordance with recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children typically receive three to four shots during a single physician visit. According to John F. Modlin, M.D., professor of pediatrics and medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, "With the introduction of new vaccines into the routine childhood immunization schedule, the number of injections required has posed a problem for policy makers and individual providers. Products such as InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV are a major step towards meeting our immunization goals."

If approved by the FDA, InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV would be the first U.S.-licensed pentavalent vaccine (targeting five diseases). Over 20,000 doses of InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV have been administered as a three-dose primary series in clinical trials designed to demonstrate that the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine are comparable to vaccines given as separate injections. SmithKline Beecham considers that combination vaccines will offer a significant advance in pediatric care and has therefore asked the FDA to consider this product for priority review.

"This new vaccine is the first of several combination vaccines we are developing in the United States with the intention of making immunization easier for everyone involved and thereby helping increase vaccination rates in this country," said John Jabara, vice president and director, Vaccines Business Unit-U.S., SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals. "We are delighted that the application for InfanrixDTPa®HepB-IPV has been submitted on schedule for review and we have great hopes that this vaccine will soon be made available to pediatricians, parents and children."

SmithKline Beecham -- one of the world's leading healthcare companies -- discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceuticals and vaccines, over-the-counter medicines, health-related consumer products, and clinical laboratory testing services. For company information, visit SmithKline Beecham on the World Wide Web at The center of SB's activities in the field of vaccine research, development and production is SmithKline Beecham Biologicals, based in Rixensart, Belgium. SB Biologicals produces more than 750 million doses of vaccines every year.

The above press release along with contact details can be found at !! This document no longer available.

According an Associated Press news item in the Las Vegas Sun:

SmithKline Beecham asked the federal government Thursday for an expedited review for its combination vaccine, which already is available in Europe. An expedited review means the government would have six months to approve the drug.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

As far as we are aware this particular combination vaccine is not available in the UK despite the reference to Europe in the Associated Press report. This would appear to be confirmed by it not being listed on the SmithKline Beecham web site as one of the vaccine products available in the UK.

For Polio Vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

For Pharmaceutical resources see our Pharmaceutical directory.

[ Index ]

15th July 1999
Post Polio Conference, Ohio, U.S.A.

The Ohio Polio Network with assistance from the Miami Valley Polio Connection and the Polio Connection of Cincinnati, OH is having the biannual Conference at Samaritan North Health Center, 9000 N. Main St., Dayton, OH 45415 August 21, 1999, from 8AM until 4:30 PM.

Dr. Jan Wootton is the keynote speaker from Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Hospital, Richmond, VA Polio Clinic. Tony Kolter, Samaritan North Physical Therapist, Mary Fran Davisson, SC, Samaritan North Licensed Massage Therapist and Devon Hanson, Anger Management.

Registration for PPSers is $25 and $15 for care giver or significant others.

Please contact Shirlee P. Sussman for further information at

For updated information on this conference see Conference Card #0008 in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary

[ Index ]

12th July 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup

During the last week the world's press have been reporting on the WHO's Polio Eradication campaign to a greater extent than usual. There follows a roundup of the articles available online.

Africa News Online: 18 months to eradicate polio

Monday, July 5, 1999.

UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reports in Africa News Online ( :

Although polio eradication efforts in Africa have accelerated over the past year, several "serious constraints" remain, WHO has warned. A report in WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record said civil conflict, insecurity, economic decline and the high burden of HIV in many African countries had resulted in damaged public health infrastructure, declining routine immunisation coverage and low morale among health staff involved in polio eradication efforts. In Angola, Chad and the DRC, the poor condition of road networks had also made crucial house-to-house immunisation and surveillance activities very difficult, the report said.

Despite these obstacles, "an intensely focused effort" in the next 18 months could reach the goal of polio eradication by the end of the year 2000, the report said, noting that about 88 million African children received two rounds of polio vaccinations in 1998 during national or sub-national immunisation days. The current funding shortfall for supplementary immunisation in the African region was US$ 13 million, the report added. To reach the year 2000 target, WHO recommends that intensified national immunisation days be conducted this year in Angola, Chad, the DRC, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e-mail:; fax: +254 2 622129; Web:, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

BBC News Online - World: WHO to 'eradicate polio by 2001'

Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 06:29 GMT 07:29 UK.

BBC News Online ( reports:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is stepping up its campaign to eradicate the crippling disease polio by the end of 2000.

The campaign concentrates on mass vaccinations, or National Immunisation Days (NIDs), which aim to vaccinate every single child in a specific population on two separate days, one month apart.

The second component of the campaign is to put in place surveillance systems to discover where the virus is located at any particular time in order to target supplementary immunisation programmes.

In the report the co-ordinator of the WHO campaign, Bruce Aylward, describes the particular problems in gaining access to people in regions affected by war.

The programme will concentrate on six countries which are the scene of current conflicts: Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

So-called "Days of Tranquillity" in these countries, agreed between warring factions and armies, are intended to allow NIDs to go ahead.

The programme will also focus on other countries where the disease is concentrated: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan and India - the country where the majority of child polio cases occur.

The article also reports that "The resolution to accelerate the immunisation campaign was agreed in May at the World Health Assembly, when 46 countries pledged to meet the 2000 target."

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Africa News Online (PANA): New Drive To Rid World Of Polio In 18 Months

Wednesday, July 7, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( the Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reports:

DAKAR, Senegal (PANA) - Faced with the massive polio outbreak in Angola, new partners have joined forces with United Nations agencies to ensure the success of the campaign to rid the world of the crippling disease by the end of 2000.

Polio would be the second disease ever to be eradicated after smallpox.

At London's National Portrait Gallery Wednesday, the world-renowned British photographer Lord Snowdon and the diamond mining and trading company De Beers joined WHO and UNICEF at press conference to launch the final assault on polio and commit the disease to the history books forever.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Africa News Online (The Nation): Polio War In Top Gear

Wednesday, July 7, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( Paul Redfern, NATION Correspondent reports:

Nairobi - The World Health Organisation now says it is hopeful that polio will be eradicated in 18 months time despite the recent outbreak in Angola.

WHO says that as a result of an emergency vaccination programme in the southern African country and accelerated immunisation campaigns elsewhere, it is now on target to "commit the disease to the history books." It is planning a major final push to combat the last vestiges of the disease at the launch of a new campaign in London on July 7.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

The London Times: Wars hit hopes of polio-free world by 2001

Thursday, July 8, 1999

Helen Rumbelow of The Times reports:

"The recent outbreak of polio in Angola has shown us the tragic consequences of failing to vaccinate every child," Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the WHO, said in London yesterday at the start of the final drive to stamp out the disease. "We have been thwarted by internal conflict, which left hundreds of thousand of children unprotected in large parts of the country."

Dr Brundtland said that Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, had pledged to negotiate "days of tranquillity" in the wars to allow the immunisation of children. The WHO hopes to triumph over polio just as the suffering caused by smallpox was ended 22 years ago. It believes that polio is present in about 35 countries but virulent in only ten, a dramatic change since the beginning of its eradication campaign ten years ago. Then, more than 125 countries on five continents were infected, with 35,000 cases reported annually of the disease that can paralyse for life.

Now about 6,000 cases a year are reported. China and the Pacific Rim countries will be certified polio-free in the autumn. The disease was banished from North and South America five years ago.

The last outbreak in Britain was 38 years ago. Europe is still being monitored, however, after an incident in The Netherlands in 1993 when a religious group refused to allow its children to be immunised and they contracted polio.

India has the highest incidence of polio, and accounts for more than half of childhood cases. In October, with the help of a £45 million grant from the British Government, healthworkers there will begin distributing one billion doses of the vaccine.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Notification of most of the news items was received via NewsIndex

For Polio eradication and vaccine related resources see our directory Polio Virus, Vaccine and Eradication

[ Index ]

9th July 1999
Mark O'Brien

Mark O'Brien, poet, journalist and inspirational voice in the movement of disabled people to lead independent lives, died early Sunday morning, July 4, 1999, in his home in Berkeley, Calif. Mr. O'Brien was 49 years old.

Born in Boston and raised in Sacramento, Calif., O'Brien was six years old when he contracted polio which left him paralyzed from the neck down. At the time of his death, he was one of some 100 polio survivors in the United States who still used an iron lung to breathe.

The 1997 Academy Award-winning documentary, "Breathing Lessons," directed by Jessica Yu, described O'Brien's long struggle to escape hospitalization and his often comic determination to live on his own and work as a writer.

The above are the opening paragraphs of his obituary written by his colleagues at Pacific News Service where he was an Editor.

In addition to his father, Mark O'Brien is survived by a brother, Ken, a sister-in-law and niece, Karen and Alicia O'Brien, of Granite Bay; a sister Rachel Jordan of Colfax, Ca.; and his collaborator Susan Fernbach and his attendant Bruce Ward.

A funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, July 10, at 2 pm at Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way, Berkeley, Ca. O'Brien's family and friends plan to establish a scholarship fund at UC Berkeley's English Department for disabled students of literature. Inquiries about the fund should be addressed to Susan Fernbach, Lemonade Factory, 1678 Shattuck Ave., Suite 267, Berkeley, Ca. 94709.

Other Obituary Notices:
Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
!! This document no longer available.

[ Index ]

28th July 1999
UN Secretary-General's Statement on Polio Vaccinations in Congo.
23rd July 1999
UNICEF reports on Polio Eradication.
21st July 1999
Conference and Seminar News.
16th July 1999
SmithKline Beecham submits new combination vaccine to US FDA for approval.
15th July 1999
Post Polio Conference, Ohio, U.S.A.
12th July 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
9th July 1999
Mark O'Brien.
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