Poilio eradicated in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative's new strategy to stop polio in Africa has reached a major objective, announcing that Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have reported no wild poliovirus cases for more than a year.

The news follows a series of multi-country immunization campaigns to fight the 2008 polio outbreak. The immunization campaigns were done in conjunction with a scale-up of technical support and strong political engagement by the countries to provide a backbone to fighting polio outbreaks.

The 2008 outbreak saw wild poliovirus type 1 in southern Sudan and Ethiopia's order area that spread to the north Sudanese city of Port Sudan, as well as to Kenya and Uganda, in early 2009.

Between March 2, 2008, and July 30, 2009, 101 children were paralyzed as a result of the polio outbreak.

The cases in Port Sudan raised international concern. From 2004 to 2006, wild poliovirus type 1 spread from Port Sudan to several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen and Indonesia.

With this outbreak now ended, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will now seek to have Angola and Chad end transmission of polio by the end of 2010.

The initiative says that the risk of wild poliovirus outbreaks will remain until all polio endemic countries - Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan - stop transmission of the disease. Ongoing outbreaks in Angola and Tajikistan, the initiative says, have stemmed from importation of the virus from this countries.