Health officials not on track to eradicate polio

July 20, 2011 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- The world is not on track to wipe out polio by the end of 2012, a group of independent health experts warned Wednesday.

Since 1998, the and partners have been trying to get rid of the paralytic disease that mostly hits children. But progress has stalled in recent years and some have questioned whether can actually be eradicated.

An independent group said in a new report released Wednesday that it was "unshakable" in its view that the global effort to stop polio by the end of next year is at risk. Two previous eradication targets have already been missed and the effort costs about $1 billion every year.

"Unless some hard messages are given with no holds barred, progress will not be made," said Sir Liam Donaldson, chairman of the group that was formed last year at WHO's request. He added the experts still thought eradication could succeed but radical changes were needed.

Polio is a that mostly strikes children under five. To eradicate it, officials need to immunize more than 90 percent of children in the handful of countries where it still circulates, including Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Donaldson and his colleagues cited numerous problems, including tricky situations in the , Chad and Angola and Pakistan. The report also described some shocking cases of bad vaccine campaigns, like falsified immunization reports and paid vaccinators hiring children to do their work.

Dr. Donald A. Henderson, who led WHO's smallpox eradication campaign decades ago, called the report "refreshingly honest," saying some past U.N. assessments have been too optimistic.

"It's very useful to get a reality check," he said, saying that if the program fails, the impact on WHO and its credibility could be devastating.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who leads WHO's polio eradication program, welcomed the report. He said WHO and its partners will implement as many of the group's suggestions as possible, like tightening surveillance and data collection and improving how they talk to the public about polio vaccines.

"If these were easy things to do, they would already have been done," he said.

Aylward said the biggest threat to stopping polio by the end of 2012 is the virus' continued spread in Pakistan and Nigeria.

"You have to think of every risk as a potential Achilles heel," he said. "Getting to polio eradication will require extraordinary programmatic perfection."

Explore further: Polio eradication hinges on four countries

More information: http://www.polioeradication.org

shares

Related Stories

Polio eradication hinges on four countries

October 13, 2006

Successfully global eradication of polio depends four countries' efforts to vaccinate children, the Swiss-based Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication said.

Polio's eradication still uncertain

December 26, 2007

Efforts to wipe out polio have stalled in recent years and eradication of the crippling disease remains a question mark, U.S. and world experts say.

Somalia free of polio once again

March 26, 2008

The World Health Organization said Somalia is once again polio-free thanks to the efforts of 10,000 health workers and volunteers.

New polio vaccine raises hope for eradication: study

October 26, 2010

A new polio vaccine offers superior immunisation and is raising hopes of a total eradication of the disease, according to a study published on Tuesday by British medical journal The Lancet.

Recommended for you

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

Zika infection may affect adult brain cells

August 18, 2016

Concerns over the Zika virus have focused on pregnant women due to mounting evidence that it causes brain abnormalities in developing fetuses. However, new research in mice from scientists at The Rockefeller University and ...

Immune breakthrough: Unscratching poison ivy's rash

August 23, 2016

We all know that a brush with poison ivy leaves us with an itchy painful rash. Now, Monash University and Harvard researchers have discovered the molecular cause of this irritation. The finding brings us a step closer to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.