Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Something to be thankful for

From the BBC for November 21.
A nationwide polio vaccination campaign has started in India as part of a World Health Organization initiative to eradicate the virus around the world.

More than 170 million Indian children under the age of five are being immunised over the next three days.

Despite an epidemic in 2002, India - by vaccinating as many children as possible with multiple doses - looks likely to stop the spread next year.

Another 80 million children are being vaccinated in 24 African countries.

In the last campaign, about 90% of children were immunised and this time health care workers will be trying to reach those in remote areas.
There are, however, some dark clouds. First, an outbreak in Cote d'Ivoire has not been addressed because the conflict there has made a vaccination program impossible for the moment. Worse,
future campaigns in the UN's Global Polio Eradication Initiative are in doubt.

An additional $200m is needed to continue vaccinations in 2005 and without this money the virus will be able to spread quickly in unimmunised children throughout the world.
How's this for a quickie holiday campaign: The US should show its "moral values" by covering the $200 million cost for the program for 2005. Since that is the equivalent of about 25 hours of the cost of war in Iraq (based on the Pentagon's current estimate of $5.8 billion per month), I really think we should be able to afford it for the sake of eliminating this scourge from the world. Call it our holiday gift to the world's children.

A page with info and links about WHO's polio eradication initiative is here.

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