Polio

A colleague of mine who has been living and working in the Democratic Republic of Congo for about the past year recently hipped me to some of the great music she’s found while living in Kinshasa. Here’s a song I particularly enjoy by Staff Benda Bilili. The principal members of this group all suffered from paralytic polio and began performing together as buskers in the neighborhood around the Kinshasa zoo. Songwriters take note of how many issues they manage to address in this very catchy, three minute song.

Staff Benda Bilili is touring in support of a new album and will be performing at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on October 24th.

Polio is now endemic in just three countries – Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. But eradicating the disease is proving difficult. In July, a community health worker was shot and killed in Karachi, Pakistan while working on the World Health Organization’s Polio Eradication Initiative. Eradication efforts were halted earlier that same week when two other health workers were injured in a shooting. The New York Times reported that the Pakistani Taliban operating in the area had instituted a ban on all polio eradication efforts.

In another setback, allAfrica.com reports that a WHO official has said that Nigeria is “not on track” to meet its goals for polio eradication. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there were four new cases reported in Katsina, Nigeria the week ending September 5th with sixteen cases there since May.

Here’s a very moving video from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in which athletes from the recent paralympic games who suffered from paralytic polio appeal for vaccinations for every child.

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