[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
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.