We’ve almost eradicated Polio. But recent measles outbreaks show us why the battle isn’t over.

polio cases
Image: Samaa

[T]he polio campaign must push on across the finish line. Failure to do so could have dire consequences.

For now, wild poliovirus is cornered in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, hard-to-access places where vaccination teams are often unwelcome and unsafe. But it is not magically corralled there. Any easing of the pressure on the virus could see a version of what is happening with measles unspool with polioviruses — though on a slower, less visible but still insidious basis.

The polio program, which goes by the acronym GPEI, has drawn up a five-year plan to take the effort through to the end of 2023; theoretically, with some lucky breaks, the job could be completed by then, Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication at the World Health Organization, told STAT.

It costs about $1 billion a year to keep polio transmission at the current levels. Relenting on that spending would see polio numbers climb again. Zaffran said though he hears the questions, the funders already know the answer.

“They’ve started an effort. They need to bring it to the end, however painful it is for this last mile,” he said.

Read full, original post: Could the world see a resurgence of polio? Experts fear a cautionary tale in measles

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