China / Society

CDC promises more polio vaccinations in Xinjiang

By Shan Juan ( Updated: 2012-12-19 19:48

China's disease-control authorities will provide more vaccinations to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to keep the region polio-free.

Wang Yu, who heads the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the promise at a media event on Dec 18 in Beijing to mark Xinjiang's continued polio-free status, which was confirmed by the World Health Organization at the end of last month.

Xinjiang last year had a polio outbreak that had entered the region from outside the country, previous reports said. The 21 cases detected between August and October 2011 resulted in one death, and 17 other people, including eight children, were paralyzed, according to China's Ministry of Health.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a viral infection to the brain and spinal cord that mainly infects children under 5 years old, medical experts said. One out of 200 sufferers paralysis, mostly in the legs.

"We've learned a lesson and will largely enhance routine vaccinations in the area to avert potential future outbreaks," Wang said.

He said previous Chinese CDC studies showed that only 60 to 70 percent of Xinjiang residents had been vaccinated against polio, far below the 85 percent required to curb an outbreak.

"At some areas, the rate could be as low as 50 percent," he said.

In response, "the central government has allocated 160 million yuan ($25.7 million) to generally improve local public health services like vaccinations," Wang said.

Vaccination agencies will be all equipped with appliances to store vaccines at the necessary low temperatures, he said.

Also, a suspected-cases reporting system will be established at local hospitals to help detect possible infections as soon as possible, he added.

Meanwhile, border surveillance will be beefed up to prevent polio cases from entering China from abroad, he said.

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