It is not quite time to declare it the ‘best of times and worst of times’ for the global effort to eradicate polio, but two new outbreaks of the infectious disease definitely puts a damper on the celebration regarding renewed international financial commitments.
The world is witnessing a resurgence of cholera accompanying several hunger crises that threaten more than 20 million people in four countries. Some 100,000 people are estimated to be sick with the water-borne, often fatal bacterial disease in war-torn Yemen. Cholera outbreaks have also struck Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia in the past year.
The world’s leading economies set to meet in Italy need to step up to avert famine in Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia, and address the existing famine in South Sudan, Oxfam officials said.
While the number of polio cases is at a historic low, new obstacles are delaying global eradication. The three remaining endemic countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – are hampered by insecurity that makes it difficult to vaccinate all children against the disease.
The World Food Program is running out of money in northeastern Nigeria, leaving millions of people on the brink of famine there in one of the most threatening positions among the world’s various crises.
The U.N. again warned that as many as 20 million people are at risk of famine in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia. Warnings in February were not enough to raise the money needed to prevent a global hunger crisis. So, new attempts are being made to convince donor countries to do more.
Boko Haram is increasingly using children in suicide attacks in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The number of child bombers tripled in the first quarter of this year to 27 as compared to the same period last year, according to UNICEF.
The Disasters Emergency Committee said it raised £50 million in three weeks to support humanitarian aid for people in East Africa. While it is good news in the short term, there is concern that the constant cycle of these emergency appeals fails to help address underlying issues.
Nigeria launched a vaccination campaign to stop the meningitis outbreak responsible for killing more than 300 people. Health workers will administer some 500,000 vaccinations in the northwest part of the country to protect people against the deadly disease. Another 800,000 vaccine doses are expected to arrive from the U.K. to be distributed throughout the country.
In war-torn countries across Africa and the Middle East, it is more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier. International organization Women for Women International works to empower these women in an effort to rebuild their lives, families and communities.