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Global Polio Eradication Initiative IMB Report Optimistic But Warns Of Possible Polio Resurgence In 2013

Though there is “significant risk” of a resurgence of polio in 2013, a new report (.pdf) from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is optimistic about the eradication of the disease, noting that 99.9 percent of polio has been stopped worldwide, with 175 cases reported so far in 2012 compared with 350,000 reported in 1988, BBC News reports. Though the IMB’s “target of stopping global polio transmission by the end of the year will clearly not be achieved,” only four countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Chad – reported cases in 2012 and India was declared polio-free in January, marking a milestone taking it off the list of endemic countries, BBC notes.

According to the news service, “The report concludes there is a ‘magic formula’ that is still missing in the affected countries, which it calls ‘absolute ownership’: this means parents demanding the vaccine for their children and local leaders grasping the challenge of wiping polio from their area” (Walsh, 11/26). A summary of key messages on the report says the GPEI’s new Strategic Plan “must be very different to its predecessors. It must address human factors as strongly as technical factors. It must rigorously establish the case for why polio must and can be eradicated, and how this will be achieved. It must draw in everybody in the world who can help ensure that this really is polio’s last stand” (November 2012).

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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.