This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBC Learning English Launch BBC Media Player
  • Help
  • Text only
You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
25 August, 2004 - Published 13:19 GMT
New polio threat in Africa
Child who has been immunised

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that for the first time in five years cases of polio have been reported in Mali and Guinea, and three new cases have been reported in the Darfur region of Sudan. This report from Richard Black:

Listen to the story

An outbreak which began in northern Nigeria has now carried polio to ten African countries which had previously eliminated the virus. It started a year ago, when Islamic clerics in Kano state condemned immunisation campaigns as an American plot to make Muslim women infertile. Unable to vaccinate in the region, the WHO tried to prevent polio spreading further by protecting people in neighbouring countries. According to Bruce Aylward, the Co-ordinator of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the latest cases show that strategy is breaking down.

The high season for polio transmission begins in September. But there is a continent-wide plan. Over the next twelve months the WHO will mount three vaccination campaigns in twenty-two African countries. It's aimed at halting the present outbreak, and banishing polio from the continent forever. But as yet there aren't enough funds to carry it out - fifty million dollars is needed by the end of this year alone - and there are still questions over whether people will accept the vaccination teams.

Kano leaders recently changed their stance and a four-day campaign took place - but it's estimated that only sixty percent of children were brought forward - and that's not enough to stem the virus.

Richard Black, BBC

Listen to the words

An outbreak
sudden, unexpected new cases of a disease

an infectious disease that’s caused by a virus entering the nervous system, often causing paralysis or even death

completely removed

immunisation campaigns
a planned set of times to take action to stop people from catching diseases

unable to have children

prepare and carry out

halting the present outbreak
stopping any more people from getting polio

banishing polio
making sure that polio is gone forever

changed their stance
altered their attitude or opinion


Other Stories