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Countries take up polio emergency

Pakistan has been singled out as a key problem area in the fight against the international spread of polio.

More than 20 nations in the Middle East and nearby regions are jointly declaring the eradication of the disease as an emergency priority

The World Health Organisation said the joint resolution by nations have called on Pakistan to urgently vaccinate all of its children to prevent the virus from spreading.

Pakistan also approved the resolution, which the WHO says includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

WHO officials said earlier this week that the polio virus has now been confirmed in 13 of 22 children who became paralysed in a northern Syrian province.

The health agency says the Syrian outbreak comes from a strain that originated in Pakistan, where, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, it is endemic - and has been spreading across the Middle East.

It says the virus has been detected in Egypt, and closely related strains of Pakistani origin turned up in sewage samples in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but higher immunisation rates in those places have helped keep the virus in check.

-AP

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