Eradicating diseases: Is the case of Polio Eradication out of reach?
The global eradication of poliomyelitis is a public health effort to eliminate all cases of poliomyelitis (polio) infection around the world. The global effort, begun in 1988 and led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and The Rotary Foundation.
This question has been discussed at the World Vaccine Congress by the John Hewko, General Secretary/CEO at Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.
UNICEF, WHO, Rotary, CDC and more recently the Gates Foundation have all contributed to the global polio eradiation initiative, the most successful public/private health achievement in history, according to John Hewko.
More than 2.5 billion people have been reached with oral polio vaccine and as a result, incidences have dropped more than 99%. Fewer than 700 cases were reported in 2011.
This year we celebrated the long anticipated milestone of taking India off the endemic country list, leaving only Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan as endemic countries.
When eradication initiative began, more than 75,000 new cases of polio were reported each year in India. Year after year, thousands of health care workers have carried out national immunization days to reach every child under age of 5 with oral polio vaccine, going door to door and holding public awareness rallies. By 2009 new cases totaled just over 700. In 2010, only 40 cases were reported and only one case in 2011. On January 13, 2012, India celebrated one full year with no endemic polio. If polio can be beaten in India, according to Hewko, it can be beaten anywhere.
Hewko believes that the new new bivalent vaccine introduction contributed substantially to drop in cases in India. The new vaccine design was driven by extraordinary collaboration with vaccine companies, government and NGOs. Hewko says that monovalent, bi and trivalent vaccines have all contributed to the effort and it is likely that injectible polio vaccine will also play a role in the post-eradication era.
But we need to stay vigilant. Beyond the three endemic countries, there have been small outreaks in more than 20 countries in the past year. This is alarming and demonstrates why it is so critically important to stop transmission in these remaining "reservoir" countries. One of the most surprising outbreaks (21 cases) took place in China which had been polio-free for more than a decade. The virus was traced to an endemic country.
Funding this effort remains a challenge. The funding gap is more than 1 billion for 2012-2013. Rotary has raised $200 million to fill that gap as part of a Gates Foundation challenge grant.
Check back here in a couple of days for the presentation .Excellent and expiring presentation John!