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GPEI Announces ‘Endgame’ Plan To Eradicate Polio By 2018

“A new global plan aims to end most cases of polio by late next year, and essentially eradicate the paralyzing disease by 2018 — if authorities can raise the $5.5 billion needed to do the work, health officials said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports (Neergaard, 4/2). “The new plan, endorsed by the World Health Organization, is designed to capitalize on momentum against the crippling disease and formally declare all parts of the world polio-free by 2018,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost writes (4/2). “The new Global Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan aims to bring the number of new wild polio cases down to zero by 2015 and eradicate the virus entirely by 2018,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” notes, adding, “The plan calls for an orchestrated global transition from the oral vaccine, which contains live polio virus (and thus can cause ‘vaccine-derived’ polio paralysis), to an injected vaccine made from dead virus” (Beaubien, 4/2).

“But key hurdles include overcoming threats against vaccine workers in Nigeria and Pakistan and raising the $5.5 billion needed for the next six years of work, said experts from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,” who announced the plan at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Washington, D.C., AFP reports. “Despite recent lethal attacks on vaccine stations in Nigeria and Pakistan, those two countries and Afghanistan all made progress in vaccinating more people and reducing polio cases in 2012, the GPEI said,” the news agency writes (4/2). “The WHO, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, have been pouring resources in to attack polio in these three countries,” according to NPR (4/2). “Last year, authorities counted 223 cases of polio worldwide, down from 650 the year before,” the AP notes (4/2).