Polio has paralysed 25 children in Somalia and another six in a Kenyan refugee camp since early May, according to figures from the End Polio Now campaign.
This brings the total number of polio cases around the world this year to 95. This time last year there had been 88 cases with outbreaks during the summer months pushing the final tally for 2012 up to 223.
Polio is endemic in just three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria – but can spread to anywhere in the world.
Total in 2012
Comparing this year’s figures to last year, the numbers are frustratingly similar. What’s different is the distribution.
In 2012 almost all polio cases were reported in endemic countries. This year has seen improvement in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria but outbreaks in Somalia and Kenya.
This has given rise to concerns that progress may be stalling. Yet enormous progress has been made in the years since eradication campaigns began. In the past 25 years, the number of polio cases has dropped by more than 99% from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 224 in 2012 – the lowest number on record.
Despite serious setbacks, including attacks on health workers in polio-hit areas, a broad coalition of public sector, private sector and philanthropic partners is making a huge effort to finish the job of polio eradication.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has saved 10 million children from paralysis. According to the United Nations, economic models estimate that ending polio would save between US$40 billion and $US50 billion in the 20 years following eradication.
Read: New strategy: Ending polio by 2018
Watch: Polio eradication in sight