London : Despite challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the polio virus is still endemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is confident that polio could be eradicated within 12 months.
“We absolutely need to keep the pressure up, but we think we could reach the point where we have truly interrupted the transmission at the end of the year or the end of the low season [winter] next year,” Guardian quoted WHO’s director of polio eradication Michel Zaffran as saying.
If wiped out, the polio virus will become the only second human-hosted virus to be eradicated since smallpox ended in 1980.
Just nine cases of the virus have been recorded this year so far, two in Afghanistan and seven in Pakistan.
“It is going to be an extraordinary achievement. This has been an ongoing effort since 1988. We started with 150 countries and we are now just down to two countries and nine cases [so far this year],” said Zaffran.
Ever since the global polio eradication initiative started in 1988, thousands of children from across the world were saved from wild polio virus that paralysed them.
The WHO has been concentrating in key areas known to be reservoirs for the virus, Karachi city in Pakistan and two cross-border corridors, around Quetta Block and in the Peshawar district.
However, Zaffran asserted that 32 out of 47 districts in Afghanistan were under the control of anti-government forces that have been prioritised for vaccination and surveillance. (ANI)