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400 Scientists From 80 Countries Sign Scientific Declaration On Polio Eradication

“Around 400 scientists from 80 countries have come together to declare that polio could be wiped off the face of the Earth in five years if plans to eliminate both wild and vaccine-derived polioviruses are implemented,” SciDev.Net reports (Malhotra, 4/11). “The plan, launched [last week] by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — comprising United Nations bodies, health organizations, Rotary International and governments — is a strategy for the polio endgame, envisaging a polio-free world in 2018,” The Guardian notes (Boseley, 4/11). “Launching the Scientific Declaration on Polio Eradication, they called on governments, international organizations and philanthropic individuals to fund the $5.5 billion cost of eliminating the few remaining cases of polio and end transmission of the disease by 2014, so that the world may be declared polio-free in 2018,” The Independent writes (Laurance, 4/11).

“The declaration emphasizes that achieving polio eradication requires efforts interrelated with strengthening routine immunization, a new focus of the GPEI plan,” a Global Health Strategies press release notes, adding, “At the same time, resources and learning from polio eradication efforts can be used to strengthen coverage of other life-saving vaccines, including for children who have never been reached with any health interventions before” (4/11). “According to one of the declaration’s signatories, ‘Eradicating polio is no longer a question of technical or scientific feasibility. Rather, getting the most effective vaccines to children at risk requires stronger political and societal commitment,’” VOA News writes (4/11). In a related article, The Lancet examines the new GPEI plan, noting it “was called for in May last year by the World Health Assembly, which declared polio eradication ‘an emergency for global public health’” (4/13).