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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 7, 2000

Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication—Democratic Republic of Congo, 1996-1999

JAMA. 2000;283(21):2785-2786. doi:10.1001/jama.283.21.2785-JWR0607-3-1

MMWR. 2000;49:253-258

1 table,1 figure omitted

In 1988, the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate poliomyelitis by December 31, 2000.1 Although progress has been extraordinary,2 full implementation of polio eradication strategies has been delayed in several countries affected by war. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has experienced continual armed conflict since October 1996. As a result, DRC is the last country in the African Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) to implement National Immunization Days (NIDs*). DRC is an important global reservoir for wild poliovirus and shares more than 5580 miles (9000 km) of border with nine countries†; in at least seven of these countries polio is endemic. The large area of DRC, substantial amount of poverty, weak health-care infrastructure, poor transportation and communication, and competing demands for resources present considerable challenges to polio eradication. This report summarizes information on the existing health-care infrastructure and routine coverage, information from NIDs carried out in 1999, and results from the recently established surveillance system for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP).