Polio increases five-fold in Chad

Aid agencies operating in Chad recently said that poor-quality emergency immunization programs and low routine polio immunization coverage led to a five-fold increase in the number of polio cases reported in 2011 compared to 2010.

There were 132 polio cases confirmed in Chad in 2011. The current outbreak has plagued the African nation since 2007. The World Health Organization recently classified Chad as a re-established transmission zone for the virus, according to IRINNews.com.

Healthcare related aid agencies said that more commitment is needed from local health officials to help immunization programs become effective.

"The primary reason [for the upsurge] is operational," Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesperson for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at WHO in Geneva, said, IRINNews.org reports. "It is not to do with insecurity or lack of infrastructure. The outbreak response has not been sufficient to stop it [the outbreak]. They continue to miss too many children."

A variety of reasons have been cited for why so many children have been passed by during vaccination campaigns. In some cases, agency or government staff have inaccurately mapped areas where the vaccine was needed, or, in some cases, may have ordered insufficient supplies for a given region.

In addition, some families remain reluctant to bring their children forward to be immunized. Others refuse the vaccine on religious grounds.

The WHO said that unless polio is eliminated in Nigeria and Chad, all West African countries will remain at high-risk.