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Editorials Discuss GPEI Polio Eradication Plan

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on Tuesday launched its Global Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan in Washington, D.C. The new plan aims to eliminate wild-type polio by 2015 and completely eradicate the virus by 2018. The following editorials address efforts to eradicate polio.

  • Bloomberg: The goal of eradicating polio “can be achieved only if health workers can find and inoculate the last unvaccinated children on earth,” an effort that will “take an estimated $5.5 billion (in addition to the $9 billion spent so far), a huge commitment from endemic-country governments and a push by Muslim leaders to counter anti-vaccination extremists,” a Bloomberg editorial states. “Even if funding comes together, structural and social challenges remain” in the three endemic countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria,” the editorial writes, adding, “[O]nly Muslim leaders can address the problem head-on by denouncing violence and embracing vaccination campaigns.” Bloomberg notes some efforts by Muslim leaders to “d[o] just that” (4/3).
  • Washington Post: Discussing the issue of polio vaccinators’ safety, as well as the killing of health workers in Pakistan and Nigeria, the Washington Post editorial writes, “Any effort to conquer polio is going to have to fully protect those carrying out the vaccination campaigns.” The editorial notes the plan’s goal of switching from an oral vaccine to a more expensive but less risky injectable vaccine, saying, “The switch to the inactivated virus is an important firewall against a further outbreak, but it won’t be easy and must go hand in hand with strong, routine immunization to prevent the virus from returning.” On the issue of funding, the Washington Post writes, “Instead of trying to raise money year to year, the new strategy calls for gathering up the total at the outset. This will be difficult in an era of budget austerity, but there have been some promising new private sources of funds.” The editorial concludes, “Hopes for wiping out polio globally have been raised by the achievement of India, now free of the virus. But success is not assured and demands a fight to the finish” (4/3).