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Archive
May 2000

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

31st May 2000

Documentary World Premiere.

World premiere of "A Fight to the Finish: Stories of Polio", Ken Mandel's documentary about the polio epidemic and its impact on the first half of the 20th century, at the Seattle Film Festival.

From festival schedule listed in the Seattle Times at http://www.seattletimes.com/
news/entertainment/html98/siff31_20000531.html

[ Index ]

Polio Eradication: Niger Vaccinates 2.5 Million Children against Polio.

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

Some 2.5 million children were vaccinated against poliomyelitis in Niger from 19-24 May when the country organised its national vaccination days.

President Tanja Mamadou personally launched the campaign by vaccinating a child at Kollo, 30 km south of Niamey.

Other ranking personalities, including the speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, and diplomats followed suite. The vaccination was part of the ongoing plan to "kick polio" out of Niger between now and 31 December.

Health authorities in Niamey plan to carry out two more vaccination rounds in June and November before the set date for poliomyelitis eradication by the end of 2000.

During the just-ended vaccination, thousands of vaccination agents in-groups went from house to house to administer two anti-polio vaccine drops to children aged 0-5 years.

During the September 1990 children's summit, Niger and other members of the international community had pledged to eradicate poliomyelitis, eliminate Vitamin A deficiency, and reduce iron deficiency by a third before the end of 2000.

Since that year, some considerable progress had been made world-wide. The number of polio cases reported has gone down by 95 percent since 1998.

At the beginning of 2000, it was reported that poliomyelitis, which is the main cause of avoidable locomotive disability, was only persistent in 30 countries, including Niger.

The president recalled that the previous polio vaccination coverage was close to 100 percent of children below the age of five years.

Niger was among the first countries in the region to include the provision of Vitamin A in their national immunisation days, which have been organised annually since 1997.

The first round of vaccination took place in November-December 1999 and in January while the next will be held in June during which vitamin A capsules would be distributed to children aged between five and six years.

Health ministry statistics indicated that the provision of the vitamin since 1998 had saved the lives of 16,000 children per year in Niger.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Niamey have said that pregnant and breastfeeding women would be given iron pills during the forthcoming vaccination campaign in June to prevent anaemia.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/
west/niger/stories/20000531/20000531_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 ]

25th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Somalia: Polio Vaccination Round Ends In Mogadishu.

In Africa News Online (http://www.africanews.org/) the UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reports on Somalia in Horn Of Africa Irin News Briefs:

Four new cases of polio were positively identified in Benadir region, in which Mogadishu is situated, in March and April, lending a degree of urgency to the three-day WHO and UNICEF polio vaccination programme completed in Mogadishu on Wednesday, a UN official told IRIN on Wednesday. Those four cases bring to 11 the number of cases in Mogadishu alone since December, which was quite alarming, the official added. After talks in Merka to explain to elders the seriousness of the situation, the vaccination programme - targeting 200,000 children under five years in Mogadishu - went ahead with the full participation of the community and the agreement of Somalia's clans and factions, a WHO official added. It is proposed to have another round in the Mogadishu vaccination campaign in June. The team working on this week's exercise, supervised by Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano of UNICEF and Dr Najivullah Mojadidi of WHO, had enjoyed considerable freedom of movement in the city and enjoyed the peaceful manner in which the programme was completed, according to media reports from Somalia.

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/20000525/20000525_feat7.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 ]

23rd May 2000
Polio returns to attack survivors.

A number of news services including ABCNews (http://abcnews.go.com/) carried the following Reuters from London:

The campaign to rid the world of polio is marching toward victory but survivors of the virus have found themselves the target of a surprise counteroffensive. Post-polio syndrome hits people around 30 years after they were originally infected with the virus, like the delayed sting in a scorpion's tail. Intense fatigue, respiratory problems, painful joints and declining muscle strength leave people with PPS feeling as if they have aged before their time.

"Over the next several years 100 percent of polio victims will have some symptom that is attributable to PPS," Dr. Richard Bruno, a director of the Post-Polio Institute at Englewood hospital and medical center in New Jersey and chairman of the International Post-Polio Taskforce, said.

He believes there are 15 to 20 million polio survivors worldwide but that does not include a large number of people who were never diagnosed with the disease and whose PPS symptoms are often mistaken for something else. "A study published last year shows that half of all people with chronic fatigue syndrome have in fact got PPS," Bruno, who has been working with post polio patients for 17 years, told Reuters.

At about the time the World Health Organization began its polio eradication program in 1989, polio survivor Esther O'Leary began to notice that a walk that usually took her five minutes was taking 15 minutes and left her exhausted.

Eleven years later, polio has been stamped out in all but 10 countries in Africa and South Asia. But O'Leary, a 53-year-old mother of four, can no longer sit up straight at the table and lift her food to her mouth. She has to hunch over her plate, bringing her mouth down to meet the fork halfway.

For a five-minute walk she uses a wheelchair.

"I used to sip my tea from a cup. Now, because of the weakness, I have to suck it through a straw. At least I have a good excuse for avoiding the ironing," she said.

OUTWARDLY FINE.

Although polio evokes images of leg braces and coffin-like iron lungs in which some victims were encased, many survivors including actress Mia Farrow and renowned British photographer Lord Snowdon exhibit no trace of the virus.

Most people who were infected with polio contracted only a mild strain that attacked their brains but did not cause muscular paralysis. Some experienced only flu-like symptoms and were never diagnosed with polio.

In the confusion of the sporadic epidemics that broke out during the 1940s and 1950s even people whose muscles were paralyzed were not always diagnosed correctly.

"If you could breathe you were sent home from the hospital. They needed the beds," said Bruno, who estimates that 39 percent of paralytic cases were never diagnosed and the figure for nonparalytic polio could be even higher.

A major hurdle in the battle against PPS is ignorance of the condition within the medical profession. Widespread vaccination means many doctors have no practical experience of the virus and are skeptical about its late effects.

"Doctors reject anything new that they did not learn in medical school," Bruno said.

Patients trek from every corner of the globe to his New Jersey clinic to get treatment they cannot get at home. Although there is no cure for PPS, physiotherapy helps and patients are advised to rest frequently.

'THERE IS NOBODY TO HELP'.

"There is nobody to help them. Doctors say to them, 'Yes I have heard about it but I do not believe in PPS,' as if it is some sort of religion," he said. "People have been told it is all in their head and they should go and see a psychiatrist."

Dr. Ali Arshad, a rehabilitation specialist based in the northern English city of Leeds, agreed that doctors are still wary of PPS. "The medical profession here are still quite skeptical, they still have not embraced it 100 percent."

This skepticism frustrates people with PPS who have struggled to establish the source of their fatigue.

"It has been an uphill struggle, like trying to climb Mount Everest," said Hilary Hallam, 52. Before PPS stopped her in her tracks the mother of two had led an energetic life that belied any trace of the polio that had paralyzed her in childhood.

A former policewoman and swimming teacher with an orange belt in judo, Hallam now uses both hands to lift a pint glass.

"I could not swim fast anymore, could not pull myself out of the water anymore, but the doctors told me there was nothing wrong with me," said Hallam, who founded a support group called the Lincolnshire Post-Polio network in eastern England at http://www.ott.zynet.co.uk/polio/lincolnshire/.

"I have had to fight every step of the way with the medical profession and I am still fighting," she said. "Doctors are still not getting the full picture."

[ Index ]

18th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Botswana To Be Polio Free By End Of 2000.

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

Botswana plans to launch a polio immunisation campaign that is meant to eradicate the malady from the country by the end of the year.

At the same time the health ministry said Thursday that the campaign is meant to curb the importation of the wild poliovirus, especially by refugees from Namibia and strife-torn Angola, who usually cross into Botswana.

The Botswana authorities have taken this measure ostensibly because of an outbreak of polio in Angola and Namibia's Caprivi strip.

According to a statement from the Botswana health ministry, the campaign, which starts Monday, will initially cover the remote northern districts of Chobe, Ngamiland and Okavango, all of which share borders with either Angola or Namibia.

The extensive immunisation programme will target all children under the age of five, irrespective of their polio status or whether they have been immunised before.

Polio has not been much of a problem in Botswana but the situation could get out of control with the influx of refugees.

The health authorities say that they are committed to the WHO goal of eradicating polio from the global scene by the end of 2000.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.africanews.org/
south/botswana/stories/20000518/20000518_feat3.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 ]

5th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Polio Truce Declared in Afghanistan.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com (http://www.jsonline.com/) carried the following Associated Press report from Islamabad, Pakistan:

Afghanistan's warring factions stopped fighting long enough this week to allow thousands of United Nations workers to immunize 4.5 million children against polio, U.N. officials said Friday.

That means every child under 5 was immunized in Afghanistan, one of only 30 countries in the world where polio still exists.

"This is the first time ever since we have been working in Afghanistan that we have been able to reach every child in every district," said Louis-George Arsenault of the U.N. Children's Fund. "Previously we were not able to reach areas because of the fighting."

The guns went silent from Monday until Wednesday, allowing 27,000 volunteers in 330 districts to distribute the polio vaccine to 4.5 million children, all under 5.

The warring factions have promised another cease-fire to allow a second round of immunization between June 3 to 5.

With a plan to eradicate polio worldwide by 2005, the immunization program in Afghanistan is a critical one and one that also benefits neighboring countries, said Dr. Mohammed Jama of the World Health Program.

For example, Jama said Iran, which neighbors Afghanistan to the west reported only three cases last year, all of them Afghan children.

Pakistan is another problem area, reporting nearly 500 new polio cases last year - 20 percent of all polio cases reported worldwide. But Jama said Pakistan has the resources, manpower and political will to move the immunization program forward.

Polio is highly infectious. It usually strikes children under 5, affecting the spinal cord and brain and causing paralysis and sometimes death.

The Taliban rule almost 90 percent of Afghanistan, and are fighting the opposition alliance in a bid to rule all of the country.

The U.N. Security Council expressed concern Thursday over mounting reports that Afghanistan's warring parties were preparing new offensives. The council also repeated demands for the Taliban to resume peace negotiations under U.N. auspices.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.jsonline.com/
news/intl/ap/may00/ap-afghanistan-pol050500.asp

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 ]

2nd May 2000
Mrs. Sabin helps us find a way.

Laura Pulfer of "The Cincinnati Enquirer" (http://enquirer.com/) writes:

WLW's Jim Scott tried to hand over the microphone. No, thanks.

"Mrs. Sabin is a little shy, but she wants everyone to know how appreciative she is," he told the crowd on the windy little plaza across from Children's Hospital Medical Center. The occasion was Friday's dedication of Albert Sabin Way, formerly Bethesda Avenue.

She really didn't need the microphone. Dr. Sabin's widow already had talked to nearly everybody there. Politicians. Media. Business executives. Doctors. In letters, personal conversations, meetings, Heloisa Sabin had said everything that needed saying. With charm, intelligence and unflinching purpose.

She is the steward of his memory, a tireless archivist and, when she needs to be, a formidable politician.

Maybe we'd have come up with a fitting way to honor the man who developed the oral polio vaccine, the man who saved millions of lives and limbs. Maybe we'd have found a way to notify the world that this miracle came from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Maybe we'd have done the right thing without Mrs. Sabin's assistance and insistance. Maybe. But, given our recent history, it seems unlikely.

There have been other dedications, other ceremonies.

A dusty little park named for him disappeared into the gaping maw of a new Fort Washington Way. Shortly after that, an awkward announcement was made that the naming rights to the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center had been sold to Delta Air Lines. Somebody suggested the "Sabin Convention Center sponsored by Delta Air Lines."

This was an outrage. The man who did not take out a patent on his most famous discovery, who made not a penny on it, who steadfastly refused to have his name commercialized in any way would not have approved.

Heloisa Sabin knew it.

Something better.

I suspect Mrs. Sabin had just about had it with us, with our fumbling civic disregard for her husband's memory. She started working with public officials and Delta Air Lines and, finally, with Children's Hospital to come up with something else.

Something better. Something more suitable. Besides the street, Dr. Sabin's name will be on an education center at Children's Hospital, a tangible symbol of his impact on the institution, of what can happen when research and clinical care and education come together in one place. In one man.

"Excuse me for saying this," she said at ceremonies last week celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sabin Polio Vaccine, "but he was a genius. Brilliant."

The model genius.

He was, in fact, the model genius. Headstrong, difficult, impatient, audacious.

U.S. authorities were slow to approve the Sabin vaccine. While they were debating the matter, Dr. Sabin tested his discovery on his two daughters. He provided his vaccine to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

Impolitic. "He wanted to save all the world's children," Mrs. Sabin says. "Albert had a very strong personality."

Well, yes he did. But the good doctor couldn't always convince people to do his bidding. Not even when he was right. Yet -- and perhaps this is simply more evidence of his genius -- he left behind a softer voice, one that was brilliantly persuasive.

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://enquirer.com/
columns/pulfer/2000/05/02/lp_mrs_sabin_helps_us.html

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

[ Index ]

1st May 2000
Polio Survivors in the News: Teaching pro sues USGA over qualifying regulations.

CNNSI (http://www.cnnsi.com/) carried the following Associated Press report from Austin:

A former teaching pro who conducts golf clinics for the disabled filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the United States Golf Association for the right to use a cart during U.S. Senior Open qualifying.

JaRo Jones, 53, of Baytown, who suffers from a disease that causes his leg and shoulder muscles to atrophy, says the USGA has denied his request for a cart during Senior Open qualifying for the past three years.

Jones, who filed his lawsuit in Austin, says denying him use of a cart violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"I really would like to try to qualify. Two years ago, there's no doubt in my mind I would have qualified," Jones said Monday from Lake Geneva, Wis., where he was conducting a clinic. "I went ahead and walked three holes in 1998 before I was forced to quit."

USGA spokesman Marty Parkes said the organization stands by its position.

"We've always maintained that walking should be part of the competition," Parkes said.

Qualifying for this year's U.S. Senior Open starts in June and federal appeals court have recently issued conflicting rulings case similar to Jones'.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court in Chicago in March ruled against a disabled club pro from Indiana. The court said a cart would change the nature of competition and that such rules were best left to the governing body.

Meanwhile, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that allows Casey Martin to ride a cart on the PGA Tour.

Jones had polio when he was 4 and was diagnosed with post polio syndrome in 1993. The condition forced him out of his job as the club pro at Newport Country Club in Crosby, Texas, three years later, he said.

"When they talk about the golf cart giving me an unfair advantage, it's just not true," Jones said. "The pain that I live with every day, all a cart does is allow me to compete. It doesn't give me any kind of advantage."

The professional Senior Tour allows players to use carts during tournaments although many chose not to.

The USGA has said it will allow Martin to use a cart for U.S. Open qualifying because the federal appeals court had ruled in his favor.

"We will provide a cart to Casey Martin. He will be the only player given that kind of accommodation," Parkes said.

Jones said he should get the same treatment as Martin.

"I have nothing against Casey," Jones said. "But I don't understand how they can deny me the use of golf cart when they turned around and said he could use one."

The complete text of the news report can be found at http://www.cnnsi.com/
golf/news/2000/05/01/disabled_ap/index.html

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

[ Index ]

DATELINE
31st May 2000
Item 1
Documentary World Premiere
and
Item 2
Polio Eradication: Niger Vaccinates 2.5 Million Children against Polio.
*
25th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Somalia: Polio Vaccination Round Ends In Mogadishu.
*
23rd May 2000
Polio returns to attack survivors.
*
18th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Botswana To Be Polio Free By End Of 2000.
*
5th May 2000
Polio Eradication: Polio Truce Declared in Afghanistan.
*
2nd May 2000
Mrs. Sabin helps us find a way.
*
1st May 2000
Polio Survivors in the News: Teaching pro sues USGA over qualifying regulations.
*
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Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Primary Document Reference: <URL:http://www.ott.zynet.co.uk/polio/lincolnshire/archive/nbit200005.html>
Alternate Document Reference: <URL:http://www.zynet.co.uk/ott/polio/lincolnshire/archive/nbit200005.html>
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