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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Respond To Global Spread Of Polio

The following is a summary of an editorial and two opinion pieces addressing the spread of polio, focusing on Syria, where the WHO last month confirmed 10 of 22 suspected cases of the disease.

  • Boston Globe: “The U.S. State Department, along with several humanitarian agencies, is calling on all parties to the Syrian conflict to allow vaccination and treatment teams into the hardest-hit provinces — which, not coincidentally, are also the ones most contested by government forces and rebels,” the newspaper writes. “To thwart what could become a regional outbreak of a crippling disease, both sides must cooperate to ensure the safety of medical personnel and renew vaccination efforts,” the editorial states, adding, “Health officials are racing to immunize [children in neighboring Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories], but a better first step would be a concerted international humanitarian effort to ensure Syria’s youngest citizens are again properly vaccinated” (11/10).
  • Bill Gates, Wall Street Journal: Reflecting on lessons learned from India’s successful campaign to eradicate polio, Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes, “The fight to end polio is not over, not even in India, and new polio cases in the Horn of Africa and Syria underscore the importance of eradicating polio everywhere.” He continues, “Still, if the world maintains its funding and commitment, we can eradicate the disease globally within six years” (11/10).
  • Tom Squitieri, U.S. News & World Report’s “World Report” blog: “As winter approaches in Syria … [i]nfectious diseases are ravaging the war-torn nation, including a new outbreak of polio, which has not been seen in Syria since the late 1990s,” Squitieri, a college professor and award-winning foreign correspondent, writes. “Along with Syria, a polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa has ballooned into more than 190 cases,” he notes, adding, “This is a humanitarian catastrophe, and it will just get worse” (11/8).