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Global Commitment Needed For Polio Eradication

“I have spent my career seeking to understand and tackling deadly viruses, from ebola to HIV. But polio stands out because, unlike these diseases, we already hold the key to its eradication: effective vaccines,” Peter Piot, director and professor of global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writes in The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. “Thanks to the use of these vaccines and other scientific advancements in the farthest reaches of the world, wild poliovirus cases dropped globally to 223 in just five countries in 2012, an all-time low and a more than 99 percent decrease from the estimated 350,000 cases in 1988,” he notes. “Equipped with vaccines and with new tools at our fingertips, such as modernized surveillance strategies to detect the virus and innovative technologies to monitor vaccine coverage, I am confident that we can eliminate polio forever,” he writes.

“That is why I am joining more than 400 scientists and technical experts from more than 75 countries in signing the scientific declaration on polio eradication, while more than 40 other leading universities and public health institutions are publicly promoting it,” Piot continues. “In contrast to previous plans, which too often tried to solve one step of eradication before moving on to the next, this plan works in parallel not only to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission, but to simultaneously build routine immunization systems, address vaccine-derived poliovirus and leave a strong legacy for other global health challenges,” he notes and discusses the plan. He concludes, “We have a chance to deliver a global health victory with the eradication of polio. We have the scientific tools to achieve a polio-free world, and now we need global commitment to make it happen” (4/12).