In this post in the Global Health Governance blog, Jenilee Guebert, director of research for the global health diplomacy program and G8 research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, writes that, “for the second year in a row, the amount of attention devoted to global health” at the annual G8 summit, which took place at Camp David in Maryland in May, has declined. “Global health was not completely absent from the summit,” she continues, highlighting several health initiatives discussed at the meeting, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched “to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture” with an aim of “lift[ing] 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.”
“Ten years after Europe was declared polio-free, the world stands tantalizingly close to eradicating the disease for good,” but “[t]he world’s chances of achieving this once unthinkable goal of ending polio are being jeopardized by a funding gap of $945 million,” Sir Liam Donaldson, chair of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, writes in this EurActiv.com opinion piece. “This shortfall means vaccination campaigns for 2012 will face cancellations in 33 countries, leaving 94 million children under-immunized,” Donaldson notes, and continues, “This is not just unacceptable: it is also highly damaging and will make our efforts to eradicate polio more expensive and challenging in years to come.”
“A senior Taliban commander has effectively banned polio eradication in one of the most troubled areas of the Pakistan frontier in an effort to force the U.S. to end drone strikes,” the Guardian reports. “Leaflets distributed in South Waziristan on behalf of Mullah Nazir, the leader of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (Fata), accused health workers who administer anti-polio drops of being U.S. spies” and “questioned the sincerity of international efforts to tackle the highly infectious disease,” the newspaper adds.
“International health experts say the global campaign to eradicate polio has reached a critical stage, with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria the only countries where the crippling and potentially deadly virus is still prevalent,” VOA News reports. “Health officials in Pakistan say they are redoubling efforts to vaccinate every child against polio after 198 new cases were reported in the country last year, the largest number anywhere in the world,” the news service notes. It goes on to highlight several challenges to the efforts, including “an ongoing insurgency and the influx of millions of Pakistani and Afghan refugees” and public opposition to the vaccinations resulting from misperceptions and concerns about safety (Padden, 6/9).
“Impressed with India’s successful effort in polio eradication,” a nine-member Pakistani delegation on Thursday met India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior officials of the Ministry to discuss the country’s polio eradication program, the Press Trust of India/Business Standard reports, noting that India achieved a polio-free status as of January (5/31). “‘The focus of our visit here was for us to learn firsthand from the government officials and partners exactly what it took for India to become polio free,’ leader of the Pakistan delegation, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, said,” the PTI/Times of India writes (5/31).
“Zimbabwe embarked on a massive immunization campaign against measles and polio on Monday, targeting about two million children under the age of five,” VOA News reports. “Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera launched the program in Harare, administering vaccines to a number of children and doses of vitamin A supplements,” the news service writes, noting, “Statistics show that at least 100 children die of largely preventable diseases in the country every day, and officials say the week-long vaccination program is meant to roll back the worrying mortality rate.”
Noting that polio is endemic in only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, and the WHO recently declared the disease a “programmatic emergency” to “galvanize work” in those three countries, a Washington Post editorial states, “A renewed campaign [against the disease] will be costly.” The editorial notes, “The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, set up in 1988 by the WHO, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Rotary International, says that it needs an additional $945 million for a total budget of $2.19 billion this year and next.”
“The tragic murders of nine anti-polio workers in Pakistan last month, followed by the New Year’s Day killing of seven more local community development workers, was both a wake-up call to the global polio eradication effort in its current form, and a ‘canary in the mine’ regarding the deteriorating state…
“This week the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates” — co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — “will deliver the annual BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture in which he will spell out his commitment to ridding the world of [polio] which can cause paralysis and even death within hours,” BBC News…
In the latest round of violence affecting health workers in Pakistan, “[g]unmen riding on a motorcycle shot and killed a police officer protecting polio workers during a U.N.-backed vaccination campaign in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, the police said,” the Associated Press reports (Khan, 1/29). The policeman, who was escorting two…