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October 1999

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

31st October 1999
Polio Eradication: Liberian Daily News Bulletin.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) Star Radio (Monrovia) reports:

Polio has caused many people to be crippled in Liberia. A UNICEF official says the high number polio victims is caused by children's lack of protection against the disease. UNICEF's Country Representative Scholastica Kimaryo says four out of five Liberian children do not have protection against polio. She made the statement Friday at the dedication of an orthopedic center in Ganta. The center will make shoes for physically disabled people. Madam Kimaryo called on Liberians to immunize their children to prevent the high incidence of polio infection.

Star Radio is staffed by Liberian journalists and managed by the Swiss NGO Fondation Hirondelle (http://www.hirondelle.org/) with financing from the U.S. Agency for International Development through the International Foundation for Election Systems.

STAR radio, Sekou Toure Avenue, Mamba point, Monrovia, Liberia. Tel: (+231) 226820 Fax:(+231) 227360; E-mail:star@liberia.net. Fondation Hirondelle 3, rue Traversiere 1018 Lausanne, Suisse Tel: (+4121) 647 2805 Fax: (+41 21) 647 4469; E-mail: info@hirondelle.org.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/west/liberia/stories/19991031_feat1.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

29th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
Program brings Belarus children to U.S. for surgery.

The Tokeka Capital Journal carries the following Associated Press report:

SHAWNEE -- The effects of polio have withered young Oleg Alexandrov's legs, but haven't touched the boy's spirit.

From the moment he gets out of bed to his first careful steps off the school bus, the 12-year-old boy from Belarus is "bright-eyed, eager and ready to go," as Bluejacket-Flint Elementary School principal Susan Knight put it.

Oleg is one of five children from Belarus who are in the Kansas City area on medical visas. All of them -- from 5-year-old orphan Olga Astashova to 17-year-old Lidia Sapegina -- are waiting to undergo surgeries to help them walk better.

"They're all very good-spirited children," said Michael Kasper, a Kansas City pediatrician who has examined them. "They all seem very bright."

In the past three years, 32 children from Belarus have traveled to the Kansas City area to participate in the project that offers them free medical assistance.

The Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children in St. Louis has agreed to donate services for the surgeries as long as Belarus extends the children's visas, said Laurann Schlapper, of Merriam.

Schlapper founded Project Restoration, the nonprofit effort that brought the children to America. She hopes to receive approval for the visa extensions by early December.

Oleg probably would have to stay the longest. He will need surgery on both legs and a hip.

The complete text of the news report from which the above is an extract can be found at http://cjonline.com/stories/102999/kan_belaruskids.shtml

See also "Boy from Eastern Europe seeks medical treatment in the States" by Diane Carroll of the Kansas City Star, dated 27th October 22:15, http://www.kcstar.com/item/pages/local.pat,local/3773f5f8.a27,.html

Notification of the both news items was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

[ Index ]

26th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
Rathje Launches Bid To Stay On Supreme Court.

Janan Hanna, Staff Writer for the Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicago.tribune.com/) reports:

S. Louis Rathje began circulating nominating petitions Monday, making official his bid for a permanent spot as a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.

Rathje was appointed to the court late last year to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice John Nickels. He announced at that time he would seek election to retain the job after his appointed term ends.

The field is crowded. Already two other prominent DuPage judges have declared their candidacy for the seat and are fighting for voters for the March 21, 2000, Republican primary election. The other candidates are DuPage County Circuit Judge Bonnie Wheaton and appeals court Judge Robert Thomas, a former place-kicker for the Chicago Bears.

The Supreme Court vacancy is for the 2nd Judicial District, which comprises 13 Northern Illinois counties, including DuPage, Will, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Winnebago. No candidate from outside DuPage County has expressed an interest in the job.

In a news release distributed Monday, Rathje announced he had begun circulating nominating petitions to Republican precinct committeemen and friends in the 13 counties in order to make the December filing deadline.

He also released his first campaign flier--a glossy pamphlet the size of a business envelope with a portrait of the candidate and his name in bright yellow letters.

"He conquered polio and rose to the Supreme Court," the caption reads.

Rathje, who served judicial stints in DuPage County Circuit Court and the Illinois Appellate Court, is a native of DuPage. Rathje spent the bulk of his legal career--28 years--in private practice before becoming a judge.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.chicago.tribune.com/
version1/article/0,1575,SAV-9910260114,00.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

[ Index ]

25th October 1999

Polio Eradication: 2.2 million children vaccinated against polio in New Delhi.

Associated Newspapers of Ceylon reports from New Delhi on Oct 24 (AFP):

Some 2.2 million children under five were vaccinated against polio in New Delhi on Sunday in a new drive to eradicate the disease from the Indian capital by next year. City government health minister A.K. Walia said 16,000 health officials and thousands of volunteers were deployed in the day-long exercise, the first phase of a city-wide immunisation drive.

The national government, pledging to eradicate polio by the end of 2000 from the entire nation, immunised 250 million infants in December and January this year.

Despite the health campaign, India is still one of the major bastions of polio, which attacks the respiratory and nervous systems and in the worst case can kill or cause severe paralysis.

In 1995, there were 2,993 reported cases of polio in India, compared with 2,836 in the rest of the world put together. In 1996, the figure for India fell to about 1,000, but a year later it rose to more than 1,800.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.lanka.net/lakehouse/1999/10/25/for02.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

Polio Eradication: Afghan polio vaccination campaign begins.

Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK BBC News Online (http://news.bbc.co.uk/) reports from the newsroom of the BBC World Service:

A United Nations campaign to vaccinate millions of children in Afghanistan against polio has begun amid reports of continued fighting.

UN officials said they had asked both the ruling Taleban and the opposition forces of commander Ahmad Shah Masood to agree to a ceasefire, but there are unconfirmed reports of renewed clashes in the north of the country.

The three-day nationwide programme aims to reach four million children under the age of five.

Polio is still widespread in Afghanistan which has one of the highest rates of child mortality from the disease.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_485000/485084.stm

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

24th October 1999

Polio Eradication: Afghan ceasefire urged for polio campaign.

Sunday, October 24, 1999 Published at 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK BBC News Online (http://news.bbc.co.uk/) reports:

The UN has urged Afghanistan's warring factions to observe a three-day ceasefire so more than 600,000 children can be immunised against polio. About 20,000 trained volunteers will vaccinate children under five from 25-27 October, the office of the UN co-ordinator for Afghanistan said. The youngsters missed two previous immunisation campaigns because of fighting.

The Taleban control more than 90% of the country, but are fiercely resisted by an opposition alliance in the north. Thousands have been killed and more than 150,000 displaced in the conflict.

Louis George Arsenault, the Unicef representative for Afghanistan, said that without a ceasefire in place "we might not be able to reach children in parts of four provinces".

Displaced hard to reach.

The operation is particularly tricky in areas such as Darra Souf in the Samangan province, where the UN estimates about 35,000 people may be living in makeshift shelters and caves.

The ceasefire appeal followed a call by the UN Security Council on Friday for the warring parties to reach a political settlement and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all people. The council also threatened the Taleban with limited sanctions if they do not hand over within 30 days the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden for trial over last year's twin US embassy bombings in Africa.

Representatives of the Taleban and the US Government are due to meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

No polio by 2001.

Polio is also being targeted in India, where the fifth annual Pulse Polio Immunisation programme was launched on Sunday in a drive to make the country polio free by the end of 2000. About 130 million children were administered polio drops in a nationwide effort.

The government intensified the campaign by raising the age-group of children targeted from under-threes to under-fives. Around 600,000 immunisation booths have been set up across the country. Similar campaigns will be organised every month until March 2000.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_484000/484039.stm

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

Polio Eradication: Liberian Daily News Bulletin.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) Star Radio (Monrovia) reports:

Cultural artists have started a 20-day anti-polio training exercise in Kendeja, outside Monrovia. The training is to educate them on the development of anti polio messages. Artists in the training program are to take part in this year's anti-polio campaign. The National Immunization Day (NID), mobilization chairman said its a strategy to intensify NIDs in Liberia. Madam Juli Endee said the training would be followed by a nation wide polio eradication tour. The tour will begin on November 15. Juli Endee is Liberia's Cultural Ambassador. Health authorities say this year's polio vaccination will be in three phases. They said the vaccines would be administered along with vitamin A.

Star Radio is staffed by Liberian journalists and managed by the Swiss NGO Fondation Hirondelle (http://www.hirondelle.org/) with financing from the U.S. Agency for International Development through the International Foundation for Election Systems.

STAR radio, Sekou Toure Avenue, Mamba point, Monrovia, Liberia. Tel: (+231) 226820 Fax:(+231) 227360; E-mail:star@liberia.net. Fondation Hirondelle 3, rue Traversiere 1018 Lausanne, Suisse Tel: (+4121) 647 2805 Fax: (+41 21) 647 4469; E-mail: info@hirondelle.org.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/west/liberia/stories/19991024_feat1.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

21st October 1999
Polio Eradication: South Africa: High childhood immunisations dropout rate.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) Marjolein Harvey for WOZA Internet reports from Johannesburg that child mortality rates on the increase.

The SA Demographic and Health Survey 1998 (SADHS) report, released this month by the department of health, showed that infant mortality rates of 45 deaths per 1,000 live births for the period of 1993 to 1997 still indicate poor socioeconomic conditions amongst a large section of the population and have increased since the early 1990s.

The SA child mortality rate is more than 4 times higher than that of industrialised countries. The report explains that "45 deaths per 1,000" means that about one in every 22 children born in SA dies before reaching its first birthday.

The strong link with quality of life and socioeconomic conditions is indicated by the fact that "poorer provinces, such as Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, or provinces with large rural populations such as KwaZulu-Natal, experience higher infant mortality rates than others.

"Similarly, women with none or a low level of education experience higher infant mortality rates," said the report.

The study also indicates the legacy of apartheid - African women, especially those living in rural areas, experience higher infant mortality rates than others.

The article briefly examines those factors the report identifies as contributing in varying degrees to the high infant mortality rate; the HIV/AIDS epidemic, dehydration as a result of diarrhoea, the low rate of exclusive breast-feeding and high childhood immunisations dropout rate.

Another cause for concern is that 37% of children aged 12-23 months were not fully vaccinated against the major childhood illnesses, and the study shows a high dropout rate between the first and third doses of DPT and polio vaccines.

"The World Health Organisation guidelines for childhood immunisations call for all children to receive a BCG vaccination against tuberculosis; three doses of DPT vaccine to prevent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus; three doses of polio vaccine; and a measles vaccination," says the report.

The high dropout after the first dose reduces full immunisation to 63% of all SA children in this age group. Two percent of children in this age group did not receive vaccinations at all.

"The data indicate that although the rural/urban gap has narrowed considerably, children in urban areas are still more likely to receive all the basic immunisations than rural children," said the report, warning that the small number of children in some groups affects the findings, and interpretation must be done with caution.

Finally, the article addresses solutions, e.g. Healthcare systems should be concerned with the "whole person", not just with the provision of medical resources; and how the report may help effect such solutions.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/south/southafrica/stories/19991021_feat20.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

20th October 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.

Democratic Republic Of Congo: Annan Urges Sides To Abide By Truce.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) the UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reports:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the warring sides in DRC to abide by the ceasefire to allow a polio immunisation campaign to proceed. In a statement on Tuesday, he reminded the sides of their obligations under the Lusaka accord. The third and final round of polio immunisation is due to take place from 20-28 October. The statement said Annan "stresses the importance of this campaign to eradicate this crippling and preventable disease in the country".

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), 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 http://www.africanews.org/east/stories/19991020_feat1.html

Kofi Annan urges parties to honour DRC ceasefire.

Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) reports from the United Nations:

Kofi Annan urges parties to honour Democratic Republic of Congo ceasefire to allow polio immunizations to proceed.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the parties to the ceasefire agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to honour the stop in fighting and allow a polio immunization campaign to proceed.

In a statement issued in New York by his spokesman, the Secretary-General reminded the parties of their commitment under the Lusaka Peace Accord to enable national immunization campaigns to be carried out.

The third and final round is scheduled for 20 to 28 October and will be conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with local health authorities and non- governmental organizations.

"The Secretary-General recalls the support of the parties for the earlier polio immunization rounds, which allowed for over 90 per cent of the targeted 10 million children under five to be immunized throughout the country," the spokesman said. "He stresses the importance of this campaign to eradicate this crippling and preventive disease in the country."

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/central/congo-kinshasa/stories/19991020_feat1.html

Uganda: Polio Campaign Succeeds.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) Charles Wendo for New Vision reports from Kampala, Uganda:

The national polio immunisation days have formally come to an end following successful coverage in the last four years, the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (UNEPI) Manager, John Barenzi, said yesterday.

Barenzi said beginning next year, the mass polio immunisation will be restricted to districts bordering Sudan and Congo, and others that have repeatedly immunised less than 80% of the children. However, routine immunisation will continue, he added.

"Starting next year, we shall concentrate on areas that could be problematic," he told The New Vision.

He said children in the border districts need extra protection because the two war-torn countries could be a fresh source of polio since their immunisation process has been inadequate.

He said a national implementation committee will sit next week to decide which districts will be included with the border districts on the "sub-national immunisation days."

He said nation-wide polio surveillance was being strengthened to make sure no polio case goes undetected.

"The most important thing at the moment is that any suspected cases of polio have to be investigated and a mop up activity carried out," he said.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/19991020_feat4.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

16th October 1999
Update on Post-polio/MOD Committee Meeting

The expert committee to plan and conduct a symposium, entitled International Conference on Post-Polio Syndrome: Identifying Best Practices in Diagnosis and Clinical Management, to be held May 19-20, 2000, in collaboration with the Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia, met October 8-9, 1999.

In attendance were Lewis P. Rowland, MD, Columbia University (Chair), John Bach, MD, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Lauro Halstead, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Joan Headley, Gazette International Networking Institute, Daria Trojan, MD, McGill University, and William Wendling, Cleveland Municipal School District. Also attending were March of Dimes program staff members Christopher Howson, PhD, Director of International Programs, Michael Finnerty, Manager, International Programs, Richard Leavitt, Director of Science Information, Ellen Fiore, Associate Editor/Science Information, and Lindsey Whitcomb, Health Information Specialist.

The committee heard comments from 17 individuals on Friday morning October 8th. Many of the individuals reported the need for better training of health professionals (primary care physicians, pulmonologists, orthopedists, emergency medicine personnel, physical therapists, etc.) about the diagnosis and management of post-polio syndrome. Health professionals and polio survivors expressed a need for more research including the assessment of the effectiveness of recommended interventions. Another frequently mentioned concern was the lack of funding for equipment and services caused by cuts in Medicare reimbursement and lack of health care insurance. The psychological consequences of having a disability and the complex issues related to experiencing post-polio syndrome later in life were also mentioned.

The committee then discussed a preliminary agenda for the May meeting. The goal of the May 19-20 meeting is to review the current information about post-polio syndrome and to critique it to identify the best practices in diagnosis and clinical management. The contents of the final document will be evidenced-based information that has been peer reviewed. The plan is to disseminate this document in hard copy and electronically and in various formats, including provider and patient guides.

The committee encourages interested parties to cite relevant data, make suggestions, voice their concerns, and provide other information for consideration. Please e-mail your comments to jroe@modimes.org or mail them to Joan Roe, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY 10605.

I would like to clarify two points. One, attendance at the International Conference on Post-Polio Syndrome: Identifying Best Practices in Diagnosis and Clinical Management to be held at Warm Springs is open to health professionals [only] by invitation only.

Two, Gazette International Networking Institutes Eighth International Post-Polio & Independent Living Conference to be held in Saint Louis on June 8-10, 2000 is open to polio survivors and health professionals. Preliminary information will be published in the Fall Polio Network News (Vol. 15, No. 4). The registration form will be available in January 2000. To receive the registration materials and future updates, contact us at gini_intl@msn.com.

Joan L. Headley
Executive Director

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
gini_intl@msn.com
www.post-polio.org

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 the MOD Warm Springs conference see Conference Card #0011 in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary

For updated information on the GINI St. Louis conference see Conference Card #0006 in our World-Wide Conference and Seminar Diary

[ Index ]

15th October 1999
Health On the Net Foundation (HON) October-November 1999 Survey

Invitation to Participate

The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) is conducting a new short survey during October-November 1999 on the evolution of the Internet usage for medical/health purposes.

If you wish to participate, please go to one of the following URLs:

English version: http://www.hon.ch/Survey/quest_internet.html

The Survey questionnaire is also available in other languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and Spanish.

HON are trying to monitor trends and help the healthcare community to meet the needs of users more effectively and improve the quality of healthcare service on the Web. HON are interested in the views of medical professionals and patients.

This survey follows the ones conducted in Feb/March 97, Aug/Sep 97, May/Jun 98 and March/April 99. For more information on the surveys: http://www.hon.ch/Survey/

Like the previous surveys conducted by HON the results of the findings will be published when the survey closes.

[ Index ]

12th October 1999
Polio Eradication: Nigeria: Odili Rewards Obedient Mothers.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) Chris Konkwo of P.M. News reports from Lagos:

The National Immunisation Campaign for the eradication of poliomyelitis has flagged off in Rivers State and to encourage wider participation in the exercise, Governor Peter Odili donated N100,000 to mothers who turned up early to immunize their children.

Dr. Odili further announced that in the next few weeks, implementation strategy for the free health services to children below six years would be made public by the Ministry of Health.

Assisted by the Deputy Governor, Sir G.T.B. Toby, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Health Commissioner, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi and other health officials, the executive governor administered the oral vaccines to babies at Orogbum Health Centre in Port Harcourt and Obio Health Centre in Obio/Akpor Local Government Council.

Dr. Odili expressed appreciation to donor agencies who supplied the vaccines notably, UNICEF, Polio Plus, WHO and Rotary International.

The Commissioner of Health, Dr. Membere-Otaji enjoined mothers to take advantage of the programme to rid the state of the deadly disease.

The highlight of the exercise was the inoculation of the immunization day baby, Oluchi Gabriel, born few hours to the flagging off of the campaign in the state.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/west/nigeria/stories/19991012_feat10.html

Notification of the above news item was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

11th October 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.

Africa News Online (New Vision): After The Polio Campaign?

September 26, 1999.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) New Vision reports from Kampala, Uganda:

Indications are that the polio eradication campaign has met with considerable success. The mass immunisation this weekend might well be the last mass exercise. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the health workers and the co-operation of the population, polio here might in two to three years time be consigned to history like small pox.

Even in troubled Congo, polio is on the way out. Uganda could almost stop being preoccupied with polio had it not been for the neighbouring Sudan which for understandable reasons has not done as well in the anti polio campaign as its southern neighbours. The local Ugandan population must be commended for having embraced the anti-polio campaign. Although in the beginning there were nasty reports of women being beaten by ignorant men for taking children for immunisation, the local councils did a good job by supplementing the health workers awareness teachings.

Even the restraint the government exercised with opponents of immunisation spared the country some nasty confrontations; tribal anti-immunisation lobbies like bazzukulu were not outlawed and media companies that campaigned against immunisation retained their licenses. Some of them can even become government allies in future health campaigns. There still is the HIV / AIDS war which is far from over. There is basic sanitation which would reduce the incidence of cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and other dangerous diseases. We still suffer avoidable dangers like expired foods and drugs. All these have to be fought and eventually minimised. Success can not come from government efforts alone. Public awareness is crucial if success is to be achieved.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/19990926_feat7.html.

Fox News Online: Pygmy battles polio on its final frontier.

10:04 p.m. ET (210 GMT) September 27, 1999.

Fox News Online (http://www.foxnews.com/) reports from Bokuma, Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Boka Langa is a local hero.

The 35-year-old leader of a popular pygmy folklore group in the jungle heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he is a key player in a world-wide bid to wipe out polio.

The fact that he himself is a victim of the disease and a living example of its crippling effects strengthens the message in one of the most inaccessible corners of the globe.

For three days in September, Langa and his troupe and teams of health workers criss-crossed his Ingende region by boat as part of a nationwide campaign to vaccinate 10 million children.

"We only have one motorised pirogue (canoe) and to go to the people is difficult,'' says Doctor Aime Loando.

Loando runs the hospital in Ingende, the capital of the territory, with funding from the Belgian charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF).

MSF provides the motorised canoe, a radio transmitter and an electricity generator. Treatment costs are kept affordably low. A visit costs less than 10 U.S. cents, an operation less than 50 U.S. cents.

HELP AT HAND BUT...

Loando says that the problems are daunting. "MSF's support alone cannot cover a territory of 17,000 square kilometres (6,564 square miles), we need other interventions,'' he notes. "The big problem is that outside of the MSF zone, there is no other support,'' he adds.

Loando is, however, satisfied with the results of the first and second phases of the polio vaccination campaign.

Langa's group is based in the small mission town of Bokuma in the Ingende region.

His legs may be twisted and useless but while his musicians draw crowds with their traditional pygmy music, he gyrates and performs acrobatics on a wooden chair.

Local doctors say that his role in mobilising the pygmy population behind the vaccination campaign has been crucial.

On a September morning, local community leaders, government representatives and clergy gather in the centre of town to tell the assembled mothers and children about the importance of polio vaccination.

The second of three phases of the vaccination campaign begins.

The whole community is mobilised. Vaccinators travel to the villages around Bokuma on foot and on bicycle, carrying megaphones and calling mothers to the vaccination site.

An old man sends vaccination messages on a lokole, a wooden drum.

A LOCAL HERO PERFORMS

Langa is carried to the site on his wooden chair, decorated with palm fronds. His arrival is greeted with loud cheers.

It is a scene which is repeated throughout the northern Ingende region for the next three days.

Teams carrying coolboxes to protect the precious vaccine from the equatorial heat travel up and down the Ruki river which cuts across Ingende, stopping at village after village to vaccinate the territory's 31,000 children under five.

The U.N. children's organisation UNICEF and the World Health Organisation have set a target of eradicating polio by the end of 2000. Other relief groups have rallied to the campaign.

In Congo, the aim is to vaccinate 10 million children under five. In 1995, the world's largest recent polio outbreak - 1,000 cases - hit Mbuji-Mayi, Congo's diamond-mining capital.

Loando says that 90 percent of the accessible population under five was vaccinated during phase one in August, with total coverage in the territory estimated at 65 percent.

On day one of phase two, 12,000 children were vaccinated.

But the logistical hurdles are huge, highlighting the problems of health care in general across Africa's third largest country with less than 2,000 km (1,500 miles) of tarred roads.

Efforts are being made to reach remote areas away from the river. Vaccination teams travel hut-to-hut in forest villages.

DIFFICULT PATH AHEAD

But the campaign to spare young children a similar fate to Langa's is hampered by a lack of resources - with follow-up surveillance critical to the success of the venture.

Medical staff in Ingende have just the one motorised canoe at their disposal. There are just five doctors for a population of 150,000, and only two hospitals.

Langa's personal contribution to the campaign has been crucial but he knows as well as anyone the value of proper resources. As a team of visiting journalists and WHO doctors left his village, he asked: "Please, bring me a wheelchair."

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/health/wires2/0927/h_rt_0927_30.sml.
! The above document is no longer available. !

Africa News Online (New Vision): Polio Campaign Successful - UNEPI.

September 28, 1999.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) New Vision reports from Kampala, Uganda:

This years' polio immunisation campaign was a success with more than 95% of the children below five years immunised despite anti immunisation campaigns in some regions.

The UNEPI program manager, Mr. John Barenzi, told The New Vision there was good co-operation from people especially in the rural areas.

"The turn up in some remote counties was so high and the exercise was extended to make sure all the children were immunised," said Barenzi.

The first round was on August 8 and 9. In Mukono, the exercise was extended for an extra day to allow for immunisation of children who missed the dose when the vaccines got exhausted on the second day.

Barenzi criticised some anti-immunisation campaigners for trying to spread rumours that the drugs were unfit for the process. He urged parents to always take their children for immunisation to decrease the children mortality rate in the country.

The Mukono district LC 5 secretary for health, Victoria Sebagereka, said the campaign was a success. She said teams will reach villages and schools to gain a 100% coverage.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/19990928_feat6.html.

Africa News Online (PANA): Congo Launches Polio Vaccination Campaign.

September 29, 1999.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) the Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports from Brazzaville, Congo:

Congo's health minister, Leon Alfred Opimba, has officially launched in Brazzaville a campaign to vaccinate 550,000 children below the age of five against poliomyelitis.

The first phase takes place from 9-12 October while the second and third are scheduled to be held in November and December, respectively. Besides polio vaccination, 484,000 children will also receive vitamin A doses at the same time.

Opimba said a door-to-door, house-to-house and street-to-street strategy will be employed in urban centres while fixed and mobile vaccination teams will work in the countryside.

Officials at the health ministry said the vaccination programme will cover all the eligible children in 11 regions, including those in south-western Congo, where fighting between the national army and militiamen backing former President Pascal Lissouba has persisted since December 1998.

A senior official said children from the troubled Pool Region will be vaccinated in Brazzaville while those in Bouenza will be vaccinated in the region's urban centres such as Dolisie and Nkayi.

The official did not specify the vaccination centres for the other troubled region of Lekoumou.

Opimba said the entire vaccination campaign would cost 486 million CFA francs. Although he did not indicate where the funds would come from, sources in the ministry said that international or bilateral organisations such as WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and the USAID would be involved in the vaccination campaign.

The first national vaccination days against polio failed to be held in December 1998 because of fighting in southern Brazzaville and in the regions of Bouenza, Pool, Niari and Lekoumou.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/central/congo/stories/19990929_feat1.html.

BBC News Online: UK millions fight Aids and polio.

Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK

In a news item on an announcement by Clare Short, UK Government International Development Secretary, of a £35m boost for disease prevention, BBC News Online (http://news.bbc.co.uk/) reports:

She also announced a £20m investment to assist in the eradication of polio from countries in which mass immunisation is difficult to organise.

"Ten years ago a young child became paralysed by polio every 40 seconds - now the prospect of its eradication from the world is within our grasp."

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/background%5Fbriefings/
aids/newsid%5F462000/462040.stm.

Philadelphia News Inquirer: Rotarians take polio vaccine to homeless Madagascans.

October 6, 1999.

The Philadelphia News Inquirer (http://www.phillynews.com/) reports:

Twenty-seven members of Philadelphia-area Rotary clubs will be in Madagascar next Wednesday to help distribute polio vaccine to 5,000 homeless children in the island nation's capital, Antananarivo.

Madagascar, situated off Africa's east coast, hopes to immunize about three million children under age 6 as part of the World Health Organization's campaign to wipe out the polio virus worldwide by the end of next year.

Philadelphia-area Rotarians, who raised $100,000 to support the immunization drive in Madagascar, will join other volunteers and public-health professionals to administer two drops of oral polio vaccine to street children in the capital, said H. Holger Hansen, Haverford College secretary and chairman of the Rotary Foundation for the Philadelphia area.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/99/Oct/06/city/PBRIEF06.htm.

Sierra Leone Begins Polio Vaccination Saturday.

October 8, 1999.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) the Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports from Dakar, Senegal:

A five-day polio vaccination campaign begins Saturday in Sierra Leone targeting 800,000 children below the age of five.

The campaign, coming 12 weeks after a cease-fire that ended eight years of bloody civil war, has been endorsed by Sierra Leone's government and various rebel representatives, the WHO said Friday in a news release received by PANA.

It added that "the campaign represents a major step forward in the global fight to eradicate polio and will be one of the first national civilian undertakings in Sierra Leone since the cease-fire was signed."

On the opening day of the campaign, President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah will administer oral polio vaccine to children.

Sierra Leone is the last country to begin the nation-wide campaigns necessary for polio eradication.

Despite wars in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and southern Sudan, vaccination campaigns were carried out there in 1999.

Formal truces were declared in DR Congo with support from UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in August.

"War remains the greatest hurdle facing the global polio eradication effort," the WHO noted.

The heads of WHO and UNICEF commended authorities in Sierra Leone for their commitment to the initiative.

"With the headlines so full of the tragedies of conflict, it is truly worth celebrating when parties can set aside their differences in the interests of the health of their children and the world," said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director- general of WHO.

"We have always believed that the idea of protecting the health and welfare of children can bring people together in constructive ways," said Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/PANA/news/19991008/feat8.html

No new polio cases in Nepal in last two years; says Health Minister.

October 10, 1999.

A Correspondent of Nepal News (http://www.nepalnews.com.np/) reports from Kathmandu:

Minister for Health Dr Ram Baran Yadav said that Nepal did not record even a single new case of polio in the last two years. Minister Yadav said that it was due to the success of anti-polio vaccination drive of the government in the last three years. Dr Yadav said this in a seminar of local bodies representatives on Fourth Polio-Immunization Programme being launched by the government in cooperation from World Health Organization and Unicef.

Nepal launched three nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaigns to give oral vaccination to children under 5. Minister Yadav said the success of government’s nationwide vaccination campaign was due to growing health awareness among people. Prior to the polio vaccination programme, thousands of Nepalese children used to get disabled every year because of polio disease. Nepal has pledged to eradicate polio within a couple years.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/archive/mainnews/arc70.htm

Hingis takes her best shot at a cure for polio, gives $100,000 to World Health Organization

October 11, 1999.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com (http://www.sun-sentinel.com) reports from Zurich, Switzerland:

Top-ranked player Martina Hingis appeared on the tennis court at the women's Swiss Indoors, but it wasn't to play tennis. The 19-year-old player was there Monday to donate $10,000 to the global effort of the United Nations to eradicate polio by the end of next year. "I have been very lucky," said Hingis, who has donated more than $100,000 this year to the World Health Organization. "I was born in Europe, which is free of polio, and was vaccinated as a child." Hingis, a six-time Grand Slam champion born in Czechoslovakia, said she could have been from Asia or Africa and been infected with the crippling disease. Organizers of the Swiss Indoors tournament, sponsored by Swisscom, will match Hingis' donation. The money will go toward polio vaccination campaigns in five countries -- Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan -- affected by war. They are among the top 10 countries slowing world eradication of the disease.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/daily/detail/
0,1136,24500000000113955,00.html

Sierra Leone Polio vaccination campaign kicks off.

October 11, 1999

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) the UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reports from Abidjan:

Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah on Saturday launched a nationwide polio vaccination campaign, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official in Freetown told IRIN.

The launch was also attended by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, head of the former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the military junta that ruled Sierra Leone from May 1997 to February 1998.

The campaign will target 800,000 children under the age of five over a period of five days and is a major step forward in the global fight to eradicate polio, according to a statement issued by WHO's headquarters in Geneva.

Sierra Leone is the last country to begin a nationwide polio eradication campaign. "As we are behind other countries the second and third phases of the campaign will be launched in November and December," the WHO official in Freetown said.

The campaign involves thousands of health workers and volunteers. It is one of the first national civilian undertakings in Sierra Leone since 7 July, when the RUF and the government signed an agreement in Lome to end an eight-year rebel war.

WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International are spearheading a global campaign to eradicate polio by next year. Since 1998, when this goal was set, the estimated number of paralytic polio cases worldwide has fallen from almost 400,000 to 20,000, WHO said.

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), 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 http://www.africanews.org/west/sierraleone/stories/19991011_feat6.html

Sierra Leone To Conduct Polio Eradication Campaign.

October 11, 1999

The following United Nations statement was distributed by Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/):

Just 12 weeks after a cease-fire that ended eight years of bloody civil war, Sierra Leone's government and various rebel representatives have agreed to support a nationwide polio vaccination campaign involving thousands of health workers and volunteers.

The campaign represents a major step forward in the global fight to eradicate polio and will be one of the first national civilian undertakings in Sierra Leone since the cease-fire was signed. The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Rotary International will join national authorities to launch the campaign Saturday, targeting 800,000 children under the age of five over a period of five days.

On the opening day of the campaign, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah will administer oral polio vaccine to children. Sierra Leone is the last country to begin the nationwide campaigns necessary for polio eradication.

Despite war in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and South Sudan, vaccination campaigns will have been carried out in all these countries in 1999. WHO, meanwhile, announced a donation of 50 million doses of polio vaccine by a leading manufacturer for five endemic countries at war -- Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and South Sudan.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/west/sierraleone/stories/19991011_feat1.html

Notification of the above news items was received via NewsIndex http://www.newsindex.com/

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

[ Index ]

7th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
She's a polio survivor, a kayaker, an adventurer and now an author.

Ferdinand M. de Leon, staff reporter at the Seattle Times (http://www.seattletimes.com/) writes from Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, on October 7, 1999:

Dying leaves and peeling bark from a stand of madronas drift in a lazy sway outside the waterfront log cabin; the faint rustle of their landing whisper the arrival of fall. Inside the house, which overlooks Mosquito Pass, Susan Meredith is planning a new adventure.

Over the course of her quintessentially Northwest life, Meredith built a home from drifting wood, kayaked raging rivers and journeyed to remote Alaskan villages wracked by tuberculosis.

Now, at 81, she is again venturing into unfamiliar waters: writing and promoting her first book, "Alaska's Search for a Killer: A Seafaring Medical Adventure: 1946-1948."

As she frets over the slides she will use at an appearance in Seattle tomorrow, Meredith confides she's nervous, as she is at the start of any adventure. But it's clear she is savoring the thrill of exploring new territory.

"People worry about getting old," Meredith says. "But actually getting old is quite fun. Oh, you have to put up with a lot of stuff, but people take you more seriously because you're old and you've seen a lot of things, and been through a lot of stuff."

Meredith seems an unlikely adventurer.

Her drive to push her limits began early. When she was 4 and growing up in Seattle, Meredith contracted polio. For a few years, she was mostly paralyzed, her body frozen in a plaster cast. She eventually regained the use of her weakened legs, and she continues to embrace her freedom every day.

"I didn't want to get left out," she says. "My body was crooked, but I was strong. I was very grateful that I could do all these things, and my parents let me."

After the end of the World War II, Meredith quit her lab job at Fort Lewis and embarked on her greatest adventure - signing on as a bacteriologist and X-ray technician on a public health ship. Her book is an account of the ship's often dangerous voyages.

The article describes the background to the book in more detail, her time on the MV Hygiene, part of a crew assigned to screen Alaska's coastal population during a tuberculosis epidemic, and her surprise at its success; "the book's first printing of 1,500 copies, marketed primarily in Alaska, quickly sold out."

Ferdinand M. de Leon then relates how it was during Susan Meredith's service in Alaska "that she discovered her enduring passion - kayaking."

"When I saw my first kayak come out of the water I was totally enthralled," Meredith says. Later she talked the captain into letting her have one on the ship. "It was so beautiful and sleek."

In kayaking, which primarily uses upper-body muscles, Meredith was unhindered by weak limbs.

"It was a wonderful release from my legs," she says.

After returning to Seattle, Meredith learned of a foldboating class taught by Wolf Bauer, who was instrumental in popularizing kayaking in Seattle. Foldboats, a precursor to the modern kayaks, were then regarded as dangerous. Bauer, along with his students, were among the first to explore the region's waters with kayaks, and Meredith was a regular part of the weekly scouting expeditions, Bauer recalled.

"Once she was in a boat, she was as strong as anyone," Bauer says. "It was amazing the things she did with us."

Meredith also pushed her physical limits in other ways, joining friends in skiing and five-mile hikes.

While searching for equipment that would allow her to walk uphill to ski, she met Jim Meredith, her future husband. Meredith, a machinist and an avid skier, designed a ski pole that solved her problems. They later had a daughter, Jean, now a computer graphics designer.

In 1976, the Merediths began building the log cabin on Roche Harbor, a project that took six years of weekend trips. Many of the logs used for the cabin had drifted ashore. Meredith jokes that the only kayaking she did during that time was when she was chasing after a passing log. When the Merediths retired in 1981, they moved to the San Juans.

Following a brief account of Meredith's fight to preserve the island's character over the years, the article reaches the 'present day'.

Two years ago, she stumbled and badly twisted her knee after slipping on a hill. It forced her to give up the annual kayaking expedition with friends that, for decades, was the highlight of her summer.

Still, every few weeks, when the mood strikes her, the sharp "vvroooom" of her three wheel motorcycle cracks the still air, a signal that she's on her way to the beach.

With her two canes, she negotiates the steps leading to the private beach behind her home, holding on to a rope that serves as a handrail. Then, she drags her fiberglass kayak to the water's edge and shoves off with her paddles.

Meredith doesn't like to think about a day when she might not be able to kayak. She believes she still has a few expeditions left in her, possibly even next summer to find hidden coves and virgin beaches in West Vancouver.

"I hope I'll never have to give up kayaking," she says. "But if I have to, I'm sure other things will come along. They always have."

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.seattletimes.com/
news/entertainment/html98/mere_19991007.html

[ Index ]

DATELINE
31st October 1999
Polio Eradication: Liberian Daily News Bulletin.
*
29th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
Program brings Belarus children to U.S. for surgery.
*
26th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
Rathje Launches Bid To Stay On Supreme Court.
*
25th October 1999
Item 1
Polio Eradication: 2.2 million children vaccinated against polio in New Delhi.
Item 2
Polio Eradication: Afghan polio vaccination campaign begins.
*
24th October 1999
Item 1
Polio Eradication: Afghan ceasefire urged for polio campaign.
Item 2
Polio Eradication: Liberian Daily News Bulletin.
*
21st October 1999
Polio Eradication: South Africa: High childhood immunisations dropout rate.
*
20th October 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
*
16th October 1999
Update on Post-polio/MOD Committee Meeting.
*
15th October 1999
Health On the Net Foundation (HON) October-November 1999 Survey.
*
12th October 1999
Polio Eradication: Nigeria: Odili Rewards Obedient Mothers.
*
11th October 1999
Polio Eradication Roundup.
*
7th October 1999
Polio Survivors in the News.
She's a polio survivor, a kayaker, an adventurer and now an author.
*
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