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Blog Posts Address Progress In, Challenges To Polio Eradication Efforts

Following the murders of several Pakistani polio vaccinators in December 2012 and India’s recognition of being free from the disease for two years on January 13, two blog posts address efforts to eradicate polio.

  • Siddharth Chatterjee, Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog“: “Thanks to India’s success, we are now closer than ever to eliminating polio, with only 222 cases worldwide last year,” Chatterjee, who works with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, writes. “At this important two-year milestone, the stakes are higher than ever for India, which will not be certified as eradicating polio unless it remains without a case for another year,” he notes, adding, “The threat to the country is real, especially given its proximity to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where active polio transmission remains.” He continues, “A polio case anywhere threatens children everywhere, so the international community must play its role and ensure the global program is fully funded and implemented” (1/13).
  • Judith Kaufmann, Health Affairs Blog: The murder of nine polio workers in Pakistan “is a tragedy,” Kaufmann, a consultant on diplomacy for international health, writes, asking, “The real question is:  Where does the global eradication program go from here?” Noting that the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) recommended “contingency planning,” she writes, “Engaging in contingency planning is not to give in to pessimism about the chance of success in eradicating polio; rather, it is a sign of realism, and of a firm determination that everything will be done that can be done to achieve eradication.” Kaufmann suggests including “new voices,” such as social scientists, in polio eradication planning efforts; emphasizing quality not frequency of polio vaccination campaigns; and pairing these efforts with other health interventions. “The killings in Pakistan should not lead to pessimism about achieving the end goal of eradicating polio for all time. But the victims should be honored with a thorough re-think of how that goal can best be achieved,” she concludes (1/11).