U.S. Actions Can Help Keep Global Polio Eradication Strategy on Track
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in April 2013 unveiled an ambitious six-year strategy aimed at finally ending polio worldwide. The four-pronged approach called for stopping transmission in the remaining polio endemic countries while also eliminating rare but paralyzing vaccine-related polio. It outlined plans to ensure proper laboratory and health facility containment of poliovirus as eradication neared. Lastly, the Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018 urged countries, donors, and international partners to begin planning for the transition of polio program resources to country heath systems and other health initiatives.
The drive to eradicate polio is at a pivotal point. The number of cases is down globally compared to last year. Polio programs in both Nigeria and Pakistan are moving in a positive direction while progress in Afghanistan is holding steady. A successful move to bivalent OPV would greatly reduce the number of polio cases caused by vaccine viruses and set the stage for an eventual worldwide switch to IPV. But extraordinary efforts still are required to reach the endgame strategy’s goals.