A new vaccine effective against both strains of polio will be instrumental in efforts to eradicate the debilitating disease, the World Health Organization said. The bivalent oral polio vaccine is being used for the first time this week in Afghanistan, where health officials hope to inoculate 2.8 million children younger than 5 years old.
UN Afghanistan mission deputy chief Peter Galbraith left the country after a fierce disagreement with UN Special Representative Kai Eide, the mission's chief, over whether to publicly denounce electoral results. International backers of the mission in Afghanistan are sharply divided over whether to pursue an investigation into the vote, which would leave a greatly weakened incumbent Hamid Karzai to govern amid political unrest, a possible runoff election and potential violence.
One year after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai entered the Zimbabwean government as prime minister in a controversial power-sharing agreement, Zimbabwe still is plagued by violence committed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. But analysts note that aspects of the economy have improved since the implementation of the power-sharing arrangement and that if Mugabe ever truly shares power with Tsvangirai and the MDC, the situation likely will improve further.
Immunization drives since 2001 have increased coverage to nearly 80% of Afghan children younger than 5 years old, but poor security conditions and frequent population movement continue to hamper polio eradication efforts and threaten to derail a government push to eradicate the disease by 2010.