Emergency Plan Launched for Endgame of Polio Eradication
The international group tasked with ridding the world of polio said on Thursday it was shifting to “emergency mode” as the fight enters its final stretch.
Polio remains endemic in just three countries — Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan — after India was taken off the list in February.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) says accelerating efforts now could wipe out polio for good: if not, its spread to other countries remains a constant risk.
If stamped out, polio would be the second infectious disease affecting humans after smallpox to be completely eradicated.
The GPEI, spearheaded by the World Health Organization and UNICEF among others, says failure could lead within a decade to 200,000 children being paralysed each year.
Aside from the health benefits, it also estimated savings of $40-50 billion by 2035 by taking into account cash spent on campaigns and treatments and gains in productivity.
“Polio eradication is at a tipping point between success and failure,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.