China Wins International Acclaim for Polio Eradication

International organizations applauded China's success in its nationwide eradication of polio at a ceremony Monday to honor outstanding Chinese units and individuals in the decade-long battle against the illness.

China was certificated as polio free by the World Health Organization (WHO) one year ago as no local polio wild virus had been detected for the preceding seven years.

By strong commitment to block transmission of the polio wild virus, China's leadership and public health area have set an example to the rest of the world, said Dr Shigeru Omi, the WHO's Regional Director for the Western Pacific Region.

The WHO announced last year in Kyoto, Japan, that the western Pacific region had become the second polio-free region, following the American region.

The whole world will be certificated as polio free if each region reports no polio virus case for consecutive three years, and "we hope to achieve this goal in four to five years," said Omi.

He said China held a special position in regional and global efforts in polio eradication because its population accounts for 80 percent of the population of the western Pacific region and 20 percent of the world's total.

China carried out massive immunization campaigns in the 1990s in a bid to protect tens of thousands of children from polio, which previously caused 20,000 to 40,000 deaths or disabilities each year.

The vaccination activities during annual National Immunization Day which began in 1993, have benefited about 80 million children under four every year and is described as "the largest public health campaign in history" by Dr. Omi.

Edwin Joseph Judd, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) area representative for China and Mongolia, also called China's efforts to protect its 360 million children from polio "an extraordinary achievement."

However, specialists warned that China still faces potential risks of new polio cases due to the existence of the wild virus in some neighboring countries.

The virus could spread rapidly in areas where ordinary immunization measures are inadequate and among transient populations, they said.

"China needs to reinforce its leadership and continue its investment to maintain a high rate of immunization to block the virus," said Vice Minister of Health Yin Dakui.

(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2001)

In This Series

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China ‘Says Yes’ for Children

More Efforts Add to Children’s Safety

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UNICEF Prioritizes Children's Rights

UNICEF Helps Poor Children in Ningxia

UN Helps Nation's Children

UNICEF Helps Migrant Workers Learn Children's Rights


The Situation of Chinese Children

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