Accessibility links

Breaking News

Indonesia Sets National Days to Protect Children From Polio

I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Most of the world has stopped the spread of the polio virus. But the disease is now increasing in some places. The World Health Organization says it may not be able to meet its goal to end polio in two thousand five.

The W.H.O. says more than one thousand children have been infected this year. That is more than two times the number as compared to the same period in two thousand four.

Polio began to spread in two thousand three when immunization campaigns were stopped for a year in northern Nigeria. As a result, the virus returned to a number of African countries that were free of polio. There are several hundred new cases in Yemen.

The virus has also spread to parts of Indonesia. Health officials say they are concerned that polio could reach China, Malaysia or the Philippines.

Children under age three suffer more than half of all cases of polio. The virus is spread through water and human waste. The virus enters the mouth and invades the nervous system. The W.H.O. says most people who are infected never show signs of polio. But they can spread the virus for several weeks.

The W.H.O. says one out of two hundred infections leads to paralysis that never goes away. Usually the victims lose the ability to move their legs. Some lose control of their breathing muscles and die.

People who recover from polio can suffer additional muscle weakness and other disorders years later. Doctors call it post-polio syndrome.

There are no cures for polio, but it can be prevented. Indonesia has plans for national immunization campaigns on August thirtieth and September twenty-seventh. The goal is to vaccinate more than twenty-four million children under age five.

Health workers say it is important to vaccinate all children in a community. The World Health Organization says the polio vaccine is safe even if a child is sick and has a high body temperature.

National immunization days have been highly effective in India. In nineteen ninety-six, India had seventy-five thousand new cases of polio. Last year, health officials reported just one hundred thirty-six.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Karen Leggett. Our reports are on the Web at Internet users can also learn more about the campaign against polio at, one word, We will have a link on our site. I'm Steve Ember.