Polio Eradication Efforts Helping To Improve Other Health Indicators

“The world is on the verge of a great success story: the eradication of polio,” John Hewko, CEO and general secretary of Rotary International, and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. But “[t]here is still ground to cover,” they continue. “Even though the current cases of polio transmission number less than 200 so far this year, the case for finishing the job — getting to zero — is more crucial than ever,” they write, adding, “If polio is fully eradicated, it can’t ever return. On the other hand, if even a few cases persist, and the world lets its guard down, those few cases could become the start of a new epidemic.”

“The last push is definitely not easy,” and “[s]ome people ask why we should spend hundreds of millions of dollars to finish the job when there are so many other health priorities,” Hewko and Sachs write, noting, “The risk of rebound is one compelling reason. Yet there is another as well. The polio eradication campaign is improving public health more generally.” They write, “With polio cases down to near zero, the world’s patience and attention span could yet falter,” and conclude, “Let us work together to finish the great global effort to end polio once and for all, and to use the energy and experience gained in that global campaign to complete the challenge of providing health for all on our small and interdependent planet” (10/26).