Assessing The Cost Of Polio Eradication Efforts

“After more than a century as a global scourge and hundreds of thousands lives lost, polio may now be on the verge of being the second human disease wiped off the face of the Earth,” Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, writes in his column for ForeignPolicy.com, “The Optimist,” and asks whether it is worth it to spend billions of dollars to wipe out the few remaining cases of the disease. Kenny discusses the cost-effectiveness of eradication efforts and writes, “In part because of the considerably greater complexity of the vaccination program, the cost of the polio eradication program is mounting.”

“Every year, then, we’re putting down $1 billion more on a gamble that we can eradicate the disease — a gamble we’re by no means sure of winning,” he writes. “Of course, if we manage global eradication, we will never again have to spend money on polio vaccination — or on supporting or burying the disease’s victims,” he continues, adding, “Conversely, if the effort to stamp out polio was scaled back, the disease would inevitably spread back into areas currently polio-free” and “kill or cripple more than 100,000 children a year.” Another reason to continue the campaign is it “has already suggested that when the global community works together it can achieve incredible things,” Kenny writes (1/17).

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