HEALTH CRISIS

Polio Outbreaks in Africa and Pakistan

Parts of Africa and Pakistan are experiencing an outbreak of a disease that, elsewhere on the globe, has long been extinct. While there were only 223 cases of polio in the entire world last year, there are currently 121 in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, home to thousands of Somali refugees. Meanwhile, in North Waziristan, three children have contracted polio since local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur banned vaccinations in the region 14 months ago in protest of American drone strikes. Though the severity of the Pakistani outbreak has not reached the level of Africa's, any manifestation of polio paralysis has the potential to spread. In anticipation of next month's hajj, Saudi Arabia is now requiring that all visitors be vaccinated both at home and on arrival at Mecca. The recent outbreaks may prove a setback to the World Health Organization's $5.5 billion plan to rid the world of polio completely by 2018.