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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Address Efforts To Eradicate Polio

The following editorial and opinion pieces address efforts to eradicate polio. World Polio Day was recognized on October 24.

  • The Lancet: Noting newly confirmed cases of polio in Syria, challenges to polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, and continued outbreaks in the Horn of Africa, the editorial states these “are pertinent reminders that the most difficult challenges for global polio eradication are the political determinants of health such as weak health systems, public mistrust, political instability, and conflict — rather than medical barriers.” Technical “global eradication efforts led by WHO, UNICEF, and the Rotary Foundation have made remarkable progress,” the editorial writes, continuing, “Technical improvements are insufficient, however, unless the political context, which has been paid little attention, is tackled more seriously.” The Lancet concludes, “To end poliomyelitis at this stage, strong political will from international partners and governments to address the political determinants of disease eradication more vigorously and urgently is key” (10/26).
  • Misbahu Lawan Didi, CNN: “While polio has not stopped me, I am determined to stop polio,” Didi, the national chair of the Association of Polio Survivors of Nigeria, writes. “Empowering people affected by polio will strengthen our campaign against the disease and help spread the message that vaccinating our children is the only way to prevent them from similar fates,” Didi, who “found[ed] para-soccer, a nationally recognized soccer-style game for people with disabilities in Nigeria,” writes. “Challenges still exist in Nigeria, especially in reaching children in some communities where security is an issue, like Kano, Borno and Yobe. We are helping to fix this by ensuring local ownership by the government and communities themselves,” he continues, adding, “I look forward to the day Nigeria overcomes the devastation of polio and joins the list of polio-free countries” (10/24).
  • John Lange, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988, the number of polio cases has decreased by more than 99 percent,” Lange, senior fellow for global health diplomacy at the United Nations Foundation, writes, noting support for eradication efforts from the U.S. government and Rotary Foundation. “U.S. leadership will continue to be essential during the final stretches of polio eradication, which will require eliminating the disease from some of the most difficult environments in the world,” he states, adding that strong political will and routine immunization systems, as well as support for health care workers will be critical. Lange concludes, “Polio eradication must continue to be a priority. We must seize this moment to end this crippling disease and show the world that we can achieve big global health victories” (10/24).