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September 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.

29th September 1999
A Message from the March of Dimes.

Distributed by GINI on 28th September 1999.


Physicians, physical therapists, polio survivors and others interested in post-polio syndrome are invited to participate October 8, 1999 in a live phone call opportunity with the Steering Committee of next years International Conference on Post-Polio Syndrome* sponsored by the March of Dimes.

The Steering Committee will convene October 8 to begin planning the program content of the Conference. There will be an opportunity on the morning of that day for interested parties to cite relevant data, make suggestions, voice their concerns, or provide other information for consideration.

If you are unable to participate in the October 8 call, you are encouraged to submit written materials of any length, including scientific articles or letters, for consideration by the Steering Committee. Mail materials to Joan Roe, March of Dimes, 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY, 10605. Materials must be received by December 31, 1999 to be considered by the Steering Committee.

The International Conference is to take place May 19-20, 2000, in collaboration with the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia. The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness of post-polio syndrome and best practices for its clinical management, to initiate development of networks and partnerships among relevant organizations and practitioners, and to address research priorities. The proceedings of the International Conference will be published and distributed in both hard copy and electronic format to a wide audience throughout the United States and abroad.

*Post-polio syndrome includes late-onset, new weakness, fatigue, pain in muscles and joints, and certain other symptoms among survivors of paralytic polio, of whom there are more than 600,000 in the United States alone.

How to Participate in the Phone Call.

If you wish to speak to the Committee, we ask that you submit a request in advance, including your name and telephone number, to Joan Roe of the March of Dimes in one of the following ways:

  1. By phone: Call Ms. Roe at +1 914 997-4777
  2. By email: e-mail
  3. By mail: Joan Roe, March of Dimes, 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY, 10605, USA.

Ms. Roe will schedule an appointment with you for the committee to call you on the morning of October 8 at a specified time. This will make the call free to you. Each caller will be accorded three minutes, with one minute for questions back from the committee, if needed. The first 30 people to contact Ms. Roe will be chosen to present. If you are not among these, we encourage you to submit your statement in writing.

Steering Committee Members.

Members of the Steering Committee who will be on hand to hear your concerns:

Lewis P. Rowland, M.D., professor of Neurology, Neurological Institute, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY chairman;

John Bach, M.D., professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, professor of Neurosciences and vice chairman, UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ;

Lauro Halstead, M.D., director, Post-Polio Program, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, DC;

Joan Headley, executive director, Gazette International Networking Institute, St. Louis, MO;

Daria Trojan, M.D., associate professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, Montreal, Canada;

William Wendling, chief communications officer, Cleveland Municipal School District, Cleveland, OH

Susan Perlman, M.D., associate clinical professor of neurology and director of the Post-Polio Clinic, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, cannot attend on October 8, but may be available by conference call.

Two other members of the Steering Committee who cannot attend on October 8 are Neil Cashman, M.D., professor of Neurology, University of Toronto Center for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Toronto, Canada; and Marinos Dalakas, M.D., chief, Neuromuscular Diseases Section, National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, M.D.

Gazette International Networking Institute (GINI)
coordinator of International Polio Network and International Ventilator Users Network
4207 Lindell Boulevard #110
Saint Louis, MO (Missouri) 63108-2915 USA
+1 314-534-0475
+1 314-534-5070 fax

For more information on the activities and publications of GINI/IPN see also International Polio Network (I.P.N.) in our resources directory.

For information about the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation see their entry in our Specialist Clinics and Health Professionals Directory.

For updated information on this conference see Conference Card #0011 in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary

[ Index ]

26th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.

White House: International Health Initiatives.

September 21, 1999.

United States Information Agency (

A White House Fact Sheet released at the United Nations General Assembly by Office of the Press Secretary, reports that during his address to the UNGA, President Clinton announced a number of new and on-going health initiatives designed to attack diseases that contribute to poverty and prevent economic development worldwide.

As well as announcing his intention to host a conference on vaccine development and to seek additional funding for a comprehensive battle against the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, President Clinton had this to say on Polio Eradication:

For only the second time in history, we are on the verge of completely eradicating an infectious disease B [sic] poliomyelitis. Polio, which once killed or crippled over 600,000 persons per year has been reduced to about 5,000 cases annually through an aggressive worldwide immunization campaign. The World Health Organization has resolved to eradicate polio by the year 2000.

Under the leadership of the UN, a broad partnership of governments, foundations, and private voluntary organizations such as Rotary International, has already eradicated the disease in the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, and much of Asia and the Western Pacific. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia contain the only remaining pockets of the disease.

The United States has already contributed over $300 million to the polio eradication effort since 1995, and the President has substantially increased our commitment to $108 million in his Fiscal Year 2000 request to Congress. We will engage other nations to join in accelerating our efforts to finally eradicate this scourge.

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

Africa News Online (PANA): Mozambican State Claims Vaccination Success.

September 23, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( the Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports from Maputo, Mozambique:

Mozambican health minister Aurelio Zilhao has claimed coverage rates of well in excess of 100 percent of the target for the 1999 polio vaccination campaign, aimed at children under five years old.

He told parliament Wednesday that for the first dose of the vaccine, health brigades had reached 113 percent of the target figure, and for the second dose, 121 percent.

Following additional details about vitamin A supplement and measles vaccine coverage the report concludes:

He [Zilhao] said the success of the vaccination campaigns was due, not to the efforts of the health workers alone, but "to the multi-faceted support of citizens at all levels, in NGOs, religious bodies, community leaders, political organisations, youth organisations and many more."

As a result, Zilhao added, Mozambique is well on the way to obtaining a World Health Organisation certificate that it is a country where polio has been eradicated.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

The Times of India: Polio eradication programme begins in Mumbai on Oct. 24.

September 23, 1999.

The Times of India ( reports from Mumbai:

As part of the National Polio Eradication Programme, polio doses will be administered to all children under five years on October 24, November 21, December 19 and January 23, 2000. The doses will be given to even those children who have been previously immunised.

The BMC will organise 6,800 centres and 10 mobile centres throughout the city to administer the doses to about 11.5 lakh children in this age group. Every centre will be managed by three BMC staff members and three volunteers.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Associated Press: CDC reports U.S. immunization rates up to record levels.

3.07 p.m. ET (1912 GMT) September 23, 1999.

In Fox News Online ( James Pilcher, of Associated Press, reports from Atlanta:

The immunization rate among America's toddlers climbed to an all-time high of 80.6 percent last year, the government said Thursday.

The rate is the percentage of youngsters 19 months to 35 months old who have had the complete series of recommended vaccinations for diphtheria/tetanus, polio and measles. The diphtheria/tetanus vaccine is given in four shots, while polio vaccine is administered in three doses.

The immunization rate has been steadily climbing since 1995, when it was 76.2 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is wonderful news, and we've seen with that a record or near-record lows in vaccine-preventable diseases," said Dr. Walter A. Orenstein, director of the CDC's National Immunization Program.

"But each day, we start at zero with 11,000 babies born that have to complete the series of immunizations. We have to keep this message out because we are tested every day."

Orenstein said that the 20 percent of children not immunized are generally poor, and a large percentage come from minority groups.

"It's an education problem," he said. "Between state and federal programs, the vaccines are out there, but there is a lot to be done in keeping track of kids' vaccine schedules and just getting the kids there."

The complete text of the news report can be found at
! The above document is no longer available. !

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 September 1999
Ian Dury "On My Life"

TV Documentary Advance Notice - UK Only.

Saturday 25th September BBC2 11:15pm - 12:15am (May run late due to earlier tennis coverage].

Ian Dury contracted polio at the age of seven and decided on a career in art after grammar school. He met his mentor Peter Blake at his London art school and started a band, Kilburn and the High Roads, to subsidise his painting and teaching career.

With his subsequent band, the Blockheads, Dury grasped the limelight in the late seventies with the anthems What a Waste and Hit Me with Your Rythm Stick. In this film, Dury reflects on his life, including his mother's roots in Ireland, the news in 1997 that he had developed cancer, and his recent comeback with the Album Mr. Love Pants. Contains swearing.

Director Mike Connolly; Executive Producer Mark Cooper.

The above is quoted from Radio Times

See also "Ian Dury & the Blockheads are back!" NewsBites 6th July 1998.

[ Index ]

17th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.

Fox News Online: Bangladesh Campaign Slashes Polio Cases.

September 5, 1999.

Fox News Online ( reports from Dhaka, Bangladesh:

The number of children infected by polio in Bangladesh annually has been cut to less than 50 from 2,300, thanks to a drive launched in 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday.

"Bangladesh led the charge against wild polio virus in the region (Indian sub-continent) by conducting its first national immunization days in February and March in 1995," said the statement released ahead of Monday's WHO regional meeting in Dhaka.

Health officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand will participate in the six-day meeting to discuss their progress in containing the disease.

It said a fresh program would be launched this month to vaccinate children aged under 5 in remote areas of Bangladesh.

India, Nepal and Pakistan, which together with Bangladesh account for 70 percent of polio victims worldwide, have also drastically reduced the number of affected children, the statement said.

It said spectacular progress had been made against polio since 1988, when the disease was eradicated from much of the world except Indian sub-continent and sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO is committed to the eradication of polio by next year.

The complete text of the news report can be found at
! The above document is no longer available. !

Africa News Online (IRIN): UGANDA: Research institute becomes regional polio testing centre.

September 14, 1999.

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

The Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a reference centre for polio testing for five countries in the region, WHO's representative Hatib Njie confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday. The decision was taken in July as part of the global effort to eradicate polio. He said that formerly every suspected case of polio had to be taken for tests in South Africa, but in 1996 health ministers in the region agreed to set up the campaign on the eradication of polio and recommended strengthening the institute to be the regional testing laboratory. "The institute's laboratory is second to that of South Africa," Njie said. "It will be further equipped. It has a lot of advantage being accessible to the countries in this region." The institute will cater for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern DRC and Ethiopia.

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 World Service: Mass polio vaccination undertaken in Burundi.

Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK

BBC News Online ( reports from the newsroom of the BBC World Service:

Medical teams across Burundi have begun a three-day programme to vaccinate all children under the age of five against polio.

President Buyoya and government ministers have travelled to towns and villages across Burundi in an attempt to raise awareness among parents.

The programme, which aims to vaccinate one-point-two million youngsters, is being undertaken with the help of the United Nations children's fund.

Correspondents say the government is currently in control of all the countryside -- despite recent attacks on the capital by Hutu rebels -- and is hopeful the rebels will not launch new attacks during the vaccination campaign.

The complete text of the news report 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 ]

11th September 1999
Post-Polio on front cover of the Nursing Times, a UK weekly publication.

Nursing Times Front Cover

The September 8th edition of the Nursing Times, published weekly in the UK, contains a four page spread under the main title "Polio strikes back" . The opening article by Marsh Gelbart looks at the history of the polio epidemics and the development of care. It is followed by a second article, also by Marsh Gelbart entitled "The sting in the tale". It is subtitled "People who have spent decades overcoming the legacy of polio are now facing new battles, says Marsh Gelbart."

We have obtained permission to reproduce the articles in the Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library and when they are available a link will be added to this news item. However, the last paragraph of the second article deserves a special quote. It needs no further explanation.

The core of health professionals who understand the specific problems associated with polio are retired or have died. Consequently it has been difficult for polio survivors with PPS to have the severity of their condition accurately assessed and to access appropriate assistance. We must listen to those affected: they often have a better understanding of their condition than health professionals.

Last and by no means least, accompanying the articles is an inset describing the particular problems confronted by Polio Survivor Len van Zyl. Len is a member of the Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, for the period 01-Jul-1997 to 30-Jun-1998 (1998-1999 figures are still to be certified), the averge weekly net circulation of the Nursing Times was 68,482 of which 65,296 were distributed in the UK. A significant number of copies appear to be sold via newsagents so NewsBites readers in the UK may be able to buy a copy. Although the publishers, EMAP, have a web site,, Nursing Times content is not published on their site.

[ Index ]

5th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.

Africa News Online (The Post of Zambia): All is set for Polio immunisation.

August 19, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( Reuben Phiri of The Post of Zambia (Lusaka) reports:

All is set for the round two Polio Immunisation Programme which kicks off tomorrow, said Central Board of Health (CBOH) director general Dr Gavin Silwamba yesterday.

Dr Silwamba said all logistics were in place both in terms of vaccines, antigens and personnel to carry out the exercise.

Everything is settled and this year we are targeting 36 districts in the country, said Dr Silwamba.

He said the selected districts include those which share borders with Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo because the two countries have had some reported incidences of polio.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Africa News Online (IRIN): WHO "amazed at turnout" for vaccination campaign.

August 23, 1999.

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

WHO and UNICEF reported that 8.2 million polio vaccinations were carried out by over 75,000 volunteer vaccinators during last week's mass vaccination against the polio virus, and the figure should be closer to 9 million once complete data were available, officials said. Some 10 million children under the age of five had been targeted. "We have been amazed at the turnout. Mothers in every village have brought their children often walking several kilometres with their infants on their backs to get this precious vaccine", a WHO press release stated. DRC, with the most intense virus transmission in the world, was the single biggest priority for the global effort to eradicate polio, it added.

"Catch-up" campaign scheduled for Kisangani.

In Kisangani, 70 percent were reported to have been vaccinated, despite the outbreak of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces, while mothers and children earlier trapped in vaccination clinics by the fighting had managed to return home, WHO reported, adding that an extra "catch-up" campaign targeting those children not yet reached was scheduled.

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

Africa News Online (PANA): Refugees Hamper Zambia's Polio Eradication Drive.

August 25, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( Lewis Mwanangombe, PANA Correspondent reports from Lusaka:

Zambia's drive to banish poliomyelitis by 2000 has been slowed down by the continued arrival of batches of un-vaccinated children from war-torn Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Annie Mtonga, the national surveillance officer at the Central Board of Health, says the influx of such refugees prompted officials to extend the national immunisation programme into border refugee camps.

Mtonga says emergency vaccination was planned after polio cases were diagnosed on the Zambian border with Angola where an outbreak of the disease was first recorded in April.

The first of a two-phase immunisation programme for these refugees and Zambian children in 38 districts was carried out from 23-24 July and 20-21 August.

Zambian health authorities described the programme as a ''mop up operation'' and the final stepping stone into a new millennium free of the dreadful disease called polio.

However, this optimistic outlook is getting crowded by the lack of tengible signs of a possible end to the hostilities in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zambia shares more than 2,000 km border with Congo and another 1,500 km with Angola. Because of fighting, the two countries have failed to immunise all the children and therefore continue to be reservoirs of the wild poliovirus.

The article continues with a brief account of the recent fighting in Kisangani and UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan's condemnation. It then returns to the situation in Zambia.

Denis Figov, chairman of the PolioPlus Programme of Rotary International in district 9210, admits grudgingly that though Zambia exceeded immunisation targets it has been difficult for it to become polio free.

"With the influx of many refugees from our neighbouring countries we are holding sub-national immunisation days this July and August in the areas close to our borders," he says.

Except for Zambia, most countries under district 9210 are close to becoming polio-free. These include Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Malawi, the fourth member of the district, is similarly being said to be on target.

Figov remains optimistic that countries in this district could still achieve the original aim of a polio-free Africa by the end of December 2000.

But the struggle against polio in Zambia has also been impeded by traditional beliefs and malicious gossip.

Annie Mwale, a 30-year-old housewife, in N'gombe squatter township of Lusaka, sadly recalls how she became a victim of one of these two.

In June 1996 - when the first anti-polio drive was launched under the slogan "Bye Bye Polio" with under-five children symbolically waving away the disease on national television - she was among the first to be trapped in the web of lies and unfounded tales.

Among the lies peddled then was that the vaccines used were drugs meant to create impotent baby boys.

Annie had believed them and turned to her mother. She was told that there was nothing better than African medicine for such a disease - a concoction of roots, tree bark and leaves.

The roots failed to keep away the alleged evils spirits and her little boy was savaged by polio. Today he is unable to walk without a shoe with callipers on the right leg.

In spite of these setbacks, Zambia has continued to soldier on, with an eye placed on the possible eradication of polio by 2000.

"The secret to polio eradication is in all children under five in the entire country receiving these two extra drops of polio vaccine," President Frederick Chiluba noted when he flagged off the first anti-polio campaign.

The struggle has been joined by former polio victims who have grouped themselves under an umbrella known as the Polio Fellowship of Zambia.

The complete text of the news report can be found at

Africa News Online (PANA): DRC Vaccination Round Rated Successful.

August 25, 1999.

In Africa News Online ( Panafrican News Agency reports from Dakar, Senegal:

The World Health Organisation has described as successful the first round vaccination against poliomyelitis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from 13-15 August.

This article then more or less repeats the story recounted in WHO "amazed at turnout" for vaccination but closes with the following:

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Ebrahim Samba, added: "This is a good start and we expect the next round in a month's time to yield even better results.

The second vaccination round takes place from 17-19 September and the third from 22-24 October.

Congolese authorities plan to vaccinate at least 10 million children against polio in 1999.

The complete text of the news report 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 ]

29th September 1999
A Message from the March of Dimes.
26th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
23rd September 1999
Ian Dury "On My Life".
17th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
11th September 1999
Post-Polio highlighted in the Nursing Times, a UK weekly publication.
5th September 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
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Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
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