[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Polio prompts Pakistan travel restrictions

WHO recommends that all residents must show proof of polio vaccination before leaving country.

Last updated: 05 May 2014 19:15
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Pakistan's failure to stem the spread of polio has triggered global emergency health measures, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending that all residents must show proof of vaccination before they can leave the country.

Monday’s emergency measures also apply to Syria and Cameroon, which along with Pakistan are seen as posing the greatest risk of exporting the crippling virus and undermining a UN plan to eradicate it by 2018.

Pakistan is in the spotlight, accounting for more than a fifth of the 417 cases reported globally in 2013.

The virus has recently spread to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Syria, and has been found in sewage in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and greater Cairo, Bruce Aylward, WHO’s assistant director general, said.

It also appeared in China two years ago.

"In the majority of these reinfected areas, the viruses circulating actually trace back to Pakistan within the last 12-18 months," Aylward told reporters on a conference call.

'Off track'

Pakistan has called an emergency meeting of senior provincial and federal health officials on Wednesday to finalise how to implement the new requirements.

"The best option would be vaccinating the passengers at the airport departure where polio vaccination cards would be issued to the passengers. Human resource and vaccines would have to be worked out for the purpose," Saira Afzal Tarar, the state minister for health services, said in a televised broadcast.

"It would be most practical as people often have to fly in emergencies."

Aylward said Pakistan had done "tremendous" work to restore security in Peshawar after deadly attacks on health workers had impeded the fight against polio.

The race to meet a target to eradicate polio by 2018 was still feasible, he said.

284

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
EU's poorest member state is struggling to cope with an influx of mostly war-weary Syrian refugees.
Study says tipping point reached as poachers kill 7 percent of African elephants annually; birth rate is 5 percent.
Zimbabwe's leader given rotating chairmanship of 15-member nation bloc a year after he won disputed presidential polls.
join our mailing list