Indonesia Set For Assault on Polio

    May 30, 2005

Indonesia gears up for the largest offensive yet against the devastating disease known the world over as a destroyer of childhood. Indonesia plans to vaccinate 6.4 million children in a single day in effort to stop the first outbreak in the archipelago nation’s first outbreak in over a decade.

The drive started in Jakarta, the capital city and aims to assault the Bogor and Lebak areas of West Java where the outbreak began. Two new cases were reported Monday taking the total to 16 since the first case was reported back in the April. Indonesia had been polio free for a decade.

One of the biggest problems with the vaccination efforts is fear. Rumors have spread about side effects like fever accompanying the vaccination and a few folks decline the virus based on religious reasons.

Indonesia has one of the largest Islamic populations in the world and a few folks claim the religion disallows the vaccinations. Therein lies the rub, as there are enough of these people to keep the virus alive.

Around 90% of Indonesia was immunized against polio accept for these areas in West Java, which only vaccinated around 55%. These areas are where the disease spreads now. The disease is believed to have spread from pilgrims who mingled with infected people from Africa during their trip to Mecca.

Polio in Other Places

Right now, Yemen is much worse than Indonesia for polio. The WHO announced on Monday that Yemen’s total went up to 71 cases since the outbreak hit their country last month as well. Yemen has been the hardest hit in the recent reemergence of the horrible disease.

The Ministry of Health in Yemen enlisted 32,000 people to run a door-to-door campaign that started today and runs until June 2nd. The vaccination blitz plans to hit all children under 5-year-old. Round 2 of the National Immunization Day will begin on July 11th. Yemen was also a polio free country.

The recent outbreaks of polio in Yemen, Indonesia and other places stems from some Nigerian clerics back in 1993. These clerics advised their flocks that the polio vaccinations would make them infertile based on a plot by the U.S. Fear spread, the vaccinations didn’t, and the spread of the disease is the result.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.