Global Polio Eradication Initiative Not On Track To End Transmission by 2012, Report Says

The latest quarterly report (.pdf) by an independent board that monitors the progress of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), released in mid-October, warned that “unless the program addresses ‘fundamental problems,’ there is a ‘substantial risk’ that stopping polio transmission will not be achieved by end-2012,” AlertNet reports. “‘Important changes in style, commitment and accountability are essential,’ the panel of international health experts said,” according to AlertNet, which adds, “Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan are still classified as ‘polio-endemic,'” and “in Angola, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo, transmission has become re-established for 12 months or more.”

GPEI — which includes the WHO, the CDC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF — “has warned that insufficient funding at this stage would jeopardize the entire eradication effort,” and “[t]he initiative … faces a funding gap of $535 million, according to its website,” AlertNet notes (Rowling, 10/21). The board writes in the report that GPEI is “not wholly open to critical voices, perceiving them as too negative — despite the fact that they may be reporting important information from which the program could benefit,” Wired Magazine’s “Superbug” blog writes (McKenna, 10/22). The report release coincides with World Polio Day, observed on October 24, according to a Gates Foundation press release, in which the foundation calls for “increased commitment and greater accountability from political leaders to end polio, and for supporters around the world to lend their voices to the fight” (10/24).

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