Some 21 nations in the Middle East and nearby regions have jointly made the eradication of polio an emergency priority and recognised that Pakistan is a key part of the problem,the World Health Organisation said Wednesday.
The joint resolution by nations who are part of the UN health agencys Eastern Mediterranean region have called on Pakistan to urgently vaccinate all of its children to prevent the virus from spreading internationally.
Pakistan also approved the resolution,which the Geneva-based agency says includes Afghanistan,Bahrain,Djibouti,Egypt,Iran,Iraq,Jordan,Kuwait,Lebanon,Libya,Morocco,Oman,Qatar,Saudi Arabia,Somalia,Sudan,Syria,Tunisia,the United Arab Emirates,and Yemen.
The problem is particularly challenging in Pakistan,where a UN-backed eradication campaign has suffered from violence and mistrust directed against polio workers and people who want their children vaccinated.
Earlier this week,WHO officials said the polio virus has now been confirmed in 13 of 22 children who became paralysed in a northern Syrian province. The health agency said the Syria outbreak comes from a strain that originated in Pakistan.
Pakistan,which had 198 confirmed polio cases in 2011 the highest number of any nation in the world that year cut that number down to 58 in 2012 through an aggressive vaccination programme. But the programme has been marred by violence carried out by militants who oppose the UN and government-led vaccinations