As Yemen geared up for an end-of-month nationwide campaign to immunize all children under 5 against a fast-moving paralytic poliovirus outbreak, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said it was shipping in 6 million doses of polio vaccine.
In addition, 10 experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with national coordinators and helping to train vaccinators and supervisors, it said.
Yemen reported 41 confirmed cases today, up from 22 late last month, UNICEF said.
"Experience shows that sporadic polio outbreaks in previously polio-free countries, such as Yemen and Indonesia, can be stopped quickly, provided high-quality immunization campaigns are implemented rapidly. While these events strain the financial resources of the global eradication effort, they do not threaten its ultimate success," UNICEF said.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, needed $50 million by July and $200 million for 2006, it added.
UNICEF said polio has been losing its grip even on the exporting "reservoirs of transmission" – northern Nigeria, northern India and Pakistan, with India reporting only 14 cases so far this year, all of them polio Type 1, and Pakistan six cases, while Nigeria had found no cases across its widely immunized southern states.
Through eradication efforts, the annual number of polio cases has dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,267 cases in 2004, it said.
Six countries are polio-endemic – Niger, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt, it said, with another six where polio has been re-established – Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Sudan.