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WHO certifies Gabon as polio-free country

December 17, 2017

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LIBREVILLE: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Gabon a “polio-free country”, given the lack of new reported or suspected cases in the central African country.

According to a WHO statement on Saturday, the UN health agency nonetheless recommended taking the necessary steps to continue monitoring for possible signs of the debilitating disease.

Gabon’s Health Minister Denise Mekam’ne Edzidzie also urged families on Saturday to “continue to immunise children and prevent a resurgence of this disease”. Polio is a highly-infectious viral disease which mainly affects young children and can result in permanent paralysis. There is no cure and it can only be prevented through immunisation.

Cases of polio have decreased by 99 per cent since 1988, when polio was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases were recorded worldwide.

Now the disease is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the WHO recorded four cases this year — two in each country. Last year, there were 37 cases globally.

Gabon is situated on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, it has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometres and its population is estimated at two million.

Since its independence from France in 1960, it only has had three presidents.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2017

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