UN says polio is spreading to countries where it had been eradicated

9 January 2004

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed two new cases of poliovirus in Benin and Cameroon - countries where the disease had previously been eradicated.

The spread of the virus across borders shows how fragile progress in its eradication is, the agency said, stressing the urgency of stopping transmission.

Health Ministers from the six remaining polio-endemic countries will gather next week for an emergency meeting to address plans to immediately intensify efforts to stop poliovirus transmission globally by the end of 2004, the UN reported.

Also attending the 15 January event will be representatives from the WHO, Rotary International, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). They are all part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which brings together 20 million volunteers and an international investment of $3 billion.


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