New York Times Examines How Developments In India, Nigeria Could Aid Global Polio Eradication Campaign

“A decade after the world’s original deadline for eradicating polio, the most tenacious bastions of the crippling virus – Nigeria and India – have recently shown remarkable progress in halting its spread, giving even some of the antipolio campaign’s severest doubters hope that it may yet largely achieve its goal,” the New York Times reports in a story looking at developments in the two countries that are helping drive down the number of polio cases there.

According to the WHO, 56 polio cases worldwide have been registered this year, which is a 75 percent decrease compared to the same time period in 2009. “The global public health system has a lot staked on the polio eradication drive. Since it began 22 years ago, more than 10 billion doses of vaccine have been dispensed and some $8.2 billion spent. Millions of cases of paralysis and death have been prevented by the vaccination campaigns, which have reduced the incidence of polio more than 99 percent,” writes the New York Times.

Bruce Aylward, director of the WHO’s polio eradication drive, said, “We’ve never had so many things looking so positive across so many areas.” CDC’s Stephen Cochi said, “A 75 percent decline in a year is pretty remarkable and suggests we may be turning the corner.” But the newspaper notes, “Both men were quick to caution that the hopeful developments could come undone, as they have before, and neither thinks polio can be wiped out before 2012.” Aylward also noted that the effort is short of the funding “its organizers say is needed through 2012 to finish the job.”

The goal of polio eradication appears to be more attainable because “better ties with local leaders [in Nigeria], improved management of health programs and a dash of Bill Gates’s celebrity helped the Muslim north adopt the polio cause, while in India viral detective work and a new focus on neglected areas and migrants have yielded results,” according to the New York Times. The article includes quotes from physicians working on polio eradication in both countries (Dugger, 4/12).