Polio Eradication Must Not Fail

“[P]eople everywhere have a stake in eradicating polio, as we have stamped out smallpox,” a Bloomberg View editorial states, adding, “Immunizing the last unvaccinated children on the planet is an expensive and complex undertaking, and worth it in the long run.” The editorial notes, “If polio transmission could be stopped by 2015, the net benefit from reduced treatment costs and productivity gains through 2035 would be $40 billion to $50 billion, according to a 2010 study.”

“Thanks to the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — which links national governments to the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — progress has been tremendous,” the editorial writes, noting, “Polio cases dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to 60 so far this year. In the same period, endemic countries fell from 125 to three.” However, the editors continue, “[j]ust as the eradicators were closing in, the job’s completion has been threatened by a $1 billion funding gap in the global initiative’s $2.19 billion budget.” The editorial notes the “coalition has adopted an emergency plan” that prioritizes vaccination in the three remaining polio-endemic countries and concludes, “The world has come too close and the stakes are too high for polio eradication to fail” (5/24).