The Polio Endgame
The number of polio cases has plummeted in the last 25 years, from 300,000 to less than 300. Even so, last May the World Health Organization declared that global eradication of polio, reaching that last 0.1 percent, was a “programmatic emergency for global public health.”
In response to this landmark resolution, global health authorities have drafted a new strategic plan that lays out steps to bring the number of wild polio cases down to zero by 2015. The price tag put on the “Endgame Strategy” is $5.5 billion USD.
According to an article published today in NPR, the strategies outlined in the plan include phasing out vaccination campaigns and securing polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.
The Washington Post adds that part of the challenge will be increasing security for vaccine workers who have recently come under attack in remaining polio hotspots such as Nigeria and Pakistan.
“Polio eradication will require global coordination like we haven’t seen before,” says Sabin Executive Vice President Dr. Ciro de Quadros. “With the number of polio cases lower than they have ever been before, and with this new strategic plan, we have a great opportunity to make polio history once and for all.”
Photo by Olivier Asselin