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“World closer than ever to wipe out polio, but no victory declaration yet”

Saturday, May 2nd 2015 - 10:46 UTC
Full article 3 comments
Latest global data show just 23 polio cases reported so far in 2015. That compares to a year-to-date total of 54 cases worldwide in 2014 Latest global data show just 23 polio cases reported so far in 2015. That compares to a year-to-date total of 54 cases worldwide in 2014
“We've never been in a better place to hold hopes of being able to eradicate this disease once and for all,” said Peter Crowley from UNICEF. “We've never been in a better place to hold hopes of being able to eradicate this disease once and for all,” said Peter Crowley from UNICEF.
Jay Wenger, head of polio eradication at the Gates Foundation, told reporters: “The progress is very impressive. We're looking forward to finishing the job.” Jay Wenger, head of polio eradication at the Gates Foundation, told reporters: “The progress is very impressive. We're looking forward to finishing the job.”

The world is closer than ever to being able to wipe out polio, international experts said, with zero cases of the crippling disease recorded across all of Africa this year and fewer than 25 globally.

 Polio eradication specialists are wary of claiming premature success and warn complacency could prove the project's downfall, but with only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, reporting polio cases in 2015, they see an end in sight.

“We've never been in a better place to hold hopes of being able to eradicate this disease once and for all,” said Peter Crowley of the United Nations children's fund UNICEF.

Jay Wenger, head of polio eradication at the Gates Foundation, told reporters: “The progress is very impressive. We're looking forward to finishing the job.”

“We don't think we can declare victory, but we've never gone anywhere near this long without any wild polio virus being found in Nigeria or in Africa as a whole,” he said on a telephone briefing with experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and the U.S. Centers of Disease Prevention and Control.

Polio is a viral disease that invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours. It can spread rapidly, particularly among children and especially in unsanitary conditions in war-torn regions, refugee camps and areas where healthcare is limited.

In 1988, when the GPEI was formed to lead a battle to wipe it out, polio was endemic in 125 countries and paralyzed nearly 1,000 children a day. Since then, thanks to huge vaccination campaigns, there has been a more than 99 percent global reduction in cases.

But the WHO's repeated warning is that as long as any child anywhere remains infected with polio, all children are at risk.

Latest global data show just 23 polio cases reported so far in 2015 -- 22 in Pakistan and one in Afghanistan. That compares to a year-to-date total of 54 cases worldwide in 2014, and a 2014 annual count of 306.

Wenger said the success in Nigeria, which has not seen a single polio case for eight months, was largely due to political will from national, regional and local government.

The experts said progress against polio remains fragile, particularly since it is in regions vulnerable to instability. In 2013, polio re-emerged in Syria after a 14-year absence, prompting a vast and expensive regional vaccination campaign.

Top Comments

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  • Briton

    The WHO have done a great job,

    keep up the good work for the benefit of mankind,

    May 02nd, 2015 - 06:43 pm 0
  • malicious bloke

    This would have been gone shortly after the year 2000 if not for antivaxxers.

    Thanks for setting back the course of human progress, retards.

    I hope you die a painful death from an easily preventable illness.

    May 02nd, 2015 - 10:13 pm 0
  • RotaryDrBob

    To End Polio - A Rotary Initiative - 1985
    During a speech to Rotary leaders in February 1985, then Rotary President Dr. Carlos Canseco announced what he considered “the biggest news in Rotary” — the commitment to help control polio worldwide.
    Since that day, Rotary’s dedication to the global eradication of polio has remained constant. 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of PolioPlus and three decades of progress and challenges the program has faced.
    Though the PolioPlus program started in 1985, Rotary began the fight against polio much earlier. In 1979 Rotary members began a multiyear program that immunized more than 6 million children in the Philippines against polio (Rotary.org).
    Polio eradication became a top priority to Rotary after urging from Canseco, Dr. John Sever and Dr. Albert Sabin. Sever, a Rotary club leader, was the head of the infectious diseases branch of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. As the developer of the oral polio vaccine, Sabin gave the program a globally respected figure.
    In its early years, PolioPlus was dedicated to fundraising for immunization efforts. In May 1988 Rotary announced that the campaign, which aimed to raise $120 million, had raised nearly $220 million in contributions and pledges. That same year, the World Health Assembly set a goal of worldwide polio eradication and launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with Rotary as one of its partners. At the time, polio paralyzed more than 1,000 children worldwide every day and 125 countries were polio-endemic.
    The GPEI partners, which also included WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were able to boost world immunization levels from less than 50 percent in 1985 to over 80 percent in 1992. Just five years after the GPEI was founded, the 500 millionth child was immunized against polio. To further efforts, Rotary started the PolioPlus Partners program in 1995.

    May 03rd, 2015 - 12:09 am 0
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