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"For me, every single child that gets paralyzed unnecessarily is a disaster," says Dr. Roland Sutter, who coordinates the World Health Organization's polio research, policy and product development. A baby gets a drop of oral polio vaccine from a house-to-house vaccination team. You can be forgiven for thinking the world had already won the war against polio. Thanks to a massive vaccination campaign that stretched from the early 1950s through the '70s, the highly contagious virus had vanished from the US by 1979. In the rest of the world, though, polio was still paralyzing 350,000 people a year.
Immunization efforts ramped up in 1988, when the World Health Assembly formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Fewer than 100 cases worldwide were reported last year, Today, polio is found only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where about a dozen cases popped up in the first quarter of the year, Polio has been tough to eradicate in those two countries, For one thing, the virus likes their hot climate, densely populated areas and poor sanitation, And then there's the violence, "We have deep sensitivity about the polio vaccination," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Associated Press in 2014, "We still have strong suspicions that the vaccination campaign could be used again and abstract watercolor iphone case again to spy on Muslims."Four years ago, the Taliban banned polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan's Waziristan region and started killing polio workers, The Taliban in January took credit for a suicide bombing that killed 14 people in a polio vaccination center in Quetta, And in April, the Pakistani Taliban gunned down seven Karachi police officers escorting a team of polio workers, (This attack temporarily halted the door-to-door campaign while I was writing this story.)..
"Vaccination teams can't operate safely in some areas," says Oliver Rosenbauer, press officer for the WHO global polio eradication department. "There are still some vaccination coverage gaps in some areas that are..imperiling the whole effort."One of the biggest reasons for those gaps is not knowing where they are. That's why Lady Health Workers track which Pakistani children have been vaccinated, who's missing and who has refused. Until recently, the women manually recorded those stats. Trying to make sense of the data was nearly impossible.
"Even if they were keeping records, we couldn't find them," says Asher Ali, project manager for Rotary International's polio phone monitoring project in Pakistan, To help, Rotary International handed out basic cell abstract watercolor iphone case phones to thousands of Lady Health Workers, Now when one of the women visits a home, she sends a shorthand text message with information that's routed to a server, The server puts the data in a spreadsheet so that all of the information can be viewed on a computer, When a health worker sees a possible polio case, she can immediately alert the broader team..
That's why workers create detailed plans documenting neighborhoods' streets, homes, number of children living in each house -- and whether the families are migrants and are therefore likely to move. They then figure out how many vaccinators they need and where they have to go, where they missed kids and the number of doses they dispensed. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative -- which includes the WHO, Rotary, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children's Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- does genetic sequencing on virus samples taken from infected children to track the spread of the disease.
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