Facts, not Fantasy

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vaccine Times: Polio death toll in Congo surpasses 200

Polio? Wasn't that nearly eradicated?  Well, yes it IS, in areas where people get the vaccine!  Of course, the anti-vax pro-disease nutters don't think that preventing death is worth the risk, however imagined it may be.  And I must quote a blogger by the name of Science Mom that had this scathing and accurate observation:  If you go to some of the anti-vax sites, it's like watching 7 year old children having a conversation about sex. The wild speculation, with merely grains of fact to work with, lead to frightening results!  How true!  I think this may be one of my favorite quotes in a long time!  Expect to see it a lot.

Polio death toll in Congo surpasses 200

The death toll from the polio outbreak in Congo has surpassed 200, according to the UNICEF. When I last reported on this outbreak, a little over a month ago, the death toll was a little under 100, and it has doubled in a little over a month. A three-round emergency immunization campaign was launched in the wake of the outbreak. This week marks the end of the second wave of the campaign with thousands of health workers and volunteers working hard to vaccinate the entire population, regardless of gender, age or past immunization status. Most of the victims so far have been in the age range of 15-29 years.

The good news is that the number of new cases appears to be slowing and the mortality rate has decreased slightly, from 47% at the beginning of the outbreak, to 42% in the beginning of December, but the situation is still worrying. UNICEF has procured 18 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine to be used in the campaign, but the logistics of actually reaching all the population are daunting to say the least.
Vaccinating a whole population is not an overnight task and comes at a cost,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, who visited Pointe Noire to support the nationwide campaign.
More funds are needed for the third wave of vaccinations which are scheduled for January.
With the support of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, $4.5 million in funding has already been committed, in addition to a government allocation of $2 million. UNICEF is seeking an additional $3 million to support the third round of the campaign in early January.
Given how world governments waste hundreds of billions in much less worthwhile projects, I can only hope that raising the $3 million needed for the third wave will not be a problem. The payoff in saved human lives and reduced suffering will be immense.

Lastly, more kudos to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet again in the thick of things right where help is needed most. They are true pro-health heroes in my book; donating their time, efforts and huge, huge amounts of cash to help those people who need it most.

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