SOMALIA-SUDAN: "Tremendous gains" in polio eradication
NAIROBI, 13 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - The United Nations is appealing for over US $200 million in the global fight to eradicate polio, and it noted that tremendous gains had been made in Somalia and Sudan, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In Somalia since an outbreak of 46 cases was reported in 2000, only three cases have been reported to date. In Sudan, there have been no reported cases since 2001.
The two agencies say they face significant challenges in both countries due to civil war and insecurity, and they have had "to create their own structures and partnerships".
The key to the success of the polio programme has been creating strong links with the community and hiring national staff in every district, said Dr Elias Durry, the WHO Polio Eradication Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.
The statement also quoted Robert Davis of UNICEF as saying that "we have reason to be optimistic, but not complacent".
"A lapse in funding for Somalia and Sudan would not only jeopardise the goal of stopping polio transmission, but could allow the virus to spread to other regions," the statement warned.