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Polio Eradication Efforts Threatened By Funding Shortfall, Vaccination Resistance In Some Countries, Experts Say

Marking the 10th anniversary since Europe was declared polio-free, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative on Wednesday released a report (.pdf) saying there is “a unique window of opportunity to stamp out polio for good,” with the number of reported cases at historical lows, but a funding shortfall of about $1 million is threatening eradication progress, Reuters reports. Polio “remains endemic in three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — after India in January became the latest country to become polio-free,” the news agency notes. IMB Chair Liam Donaldson “said the global financial crisis coupled with growing needs for polio funding had led to a shortfall of $945 million out of a total 2012-13 eradication program budget of $2 billion” and that 33 countries would have to cancel their vaccination programs, leaving 94 million children unprotected, according to Reuters (Kelland, 6/20).

“In the world’s six persistently affected countries, 2.7 million children have never had a dose of polio vaccine,” the Guardian writes. “‘[This] 2.7 million is too big a number,’ says the report. ‘It should be sending shockwaves through the leadership of the global program and through the political and public health leadership of each affected country,'” according to the newspaper. The Guardian outlines the challenges of vaccinating children in several countries, including Pakistan, where a Taliban leader in the northwest of the country “has banned polio vaccines until the U.S. ceases its drone strikes in the region” (Boseley, 6/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.