Some countries are reporting progress in ending the disease polio, but polio is still spreading to other countries. Polio spreads through water and human waste. People with polio are not able to move their arms or legs. Sometimes polio is deadly. But the disease can be prevented with a vaccine medicine that is given to babies and young children. Children under five years old should receive at least four doses of the polio vaccine to be protected.
Polio had ended completely in Yemen and Indonesia. But experts believe the disease has now spread there from Nigeria. Vaccinations stopped for one year in Nigeria when some people worried about whether the vaccine was safe. Vaccination campaigns have started again in Nigeria. The number of polio cases in that country has been reduced by fifty percent.
But now there are at least sixty-five cases of the disease reported in Indonesia and more than two hundred forty in Yemen. Yemen has almost half of all the new cases of polio in the world this year. There are also new cases in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Niger.
India and Pakistan have never been free of polio, but world health officials say more children in India are protected against polio than ever before. For example, polio immunization campaigns are being held every six weeks in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Also in India, seventy-five percent of the groups that give the vaccinations include a person who is well known in the local community. Health officials say this means that many more children receive the polio vaccine. They also say that the support of local governments in Pakistan has been very important.
Health officials say big vaccination campaigns are planned this year in all the countries where polio is spreading. For example, there will be six national immunization campaigns in more than twenty countries in west and central Africa.
When children receive the polio vaccine, they will also receive a dose of Vitamin A to help their bodies fight other diseases. World health officials are still hopeful that they can stop the spread of polio all over the world by the end of this year.
This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Karen Leggett. Our reports are online at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Gwen Outen.