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Polio Eradication Initiative
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1988 with the goal of eradicating Polio by the year 2000. The WHA consist of ministers of health of different countries that are members of the World Health Organization. This global polio eradication initiative is the single and largest internationally-coordinated public health project to date. When the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, the wild poliovirus was endemic in more than 125 countries on five continents and paralyzing more than 1000 children every day; after the prograamme, from 1988 to 2006, only four countries were yet eradicate polio and these countries consist of Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan this was
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was spearheaded by different governmental and non-governmental agencies consisting of governments of countries, Rotary international, UNICEF and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the start of the polio eradication initiative in 1988, more than 2 billion children globally have had access and have taken the polio vaccine.
- Polio dates back thousands of years ago as in 1580-1350, an Egyptian stele shows a priest with a withered leg, leaning on a staff which suggests that polio has been endemic for thousands of years; Polio was first described by a British physician, Dr. Michael Underwood in 1789 as Debility of the Lower Extremities.
- In 1840, Dr. Jacob von Heine conducted the first systematic investigation of poliomyelitis and gave the theory that the disease may be contagious. Von Heine’s treatments are used well into the 20th century.
- In 1894, the first significant Polio outbreak (infantile paralysis) occurred in the United States of America
- In 1907, Dr. Ivar Wickman, a Swedish pediatrician, was the first to classify the different clinical types of polio
- The first hypothesis that Polio might be caused by a virus was made by Austrian physicians Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper in 1908
- The 3 serotypes of poliovirus (poliovirus 1, 2 and 3) were identified in 1931 by Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Dame Jean MacNamara
- In 1938, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was established in the United States; this is now the fundraising organization that helps to support the eradication of polio and now goes by the name March of Dimes
- In 1948, Thomas Weller and Frederick Robbins succeeded in growing poliovirus in live cells this was what laid the foundation for the development of polio vaccines and they were given Nobel Prize for their work
- In 1955 the inactivated polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk started being used to prevent poliomyelitis.
- In 1961, Dr. Albert Sabin developed a “live” oral polio vaccine (OPV) which as of then was the vaccine of choice for most national immunization programmes in the world. Also in 1961, polio immunization campaigns in Cuba and in Eastern Europe demonstrated that wild poliovirus can be eliminated in large geographic areas this provided the basis for polio eradication.
- The World Health Assembly in 1974 resolved to create the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) to help bring basic vaccines to children globally this programme helped in smallpox eradication and make immunization for children’s diseases available worldwide.
- In 1978, Polio outbreak occurred in the Netherlands and spread to Canada and the United States of America in 1979.
Polio Eradication Strategies
- High infant immunization coverage with four doses of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in the first year of life
- Supplementary doses of OPV to all children under five years of age during SIAs
- Surveillance for wild poliovirus through reporting and laboratory testing of all acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases among children under fifteen years of age
- Targeted mop-up campaigns once wild poliovirus transmission is limited to a specific focal area.
- Before a WHO region can be certified polio-free, three conditions must be satisfied: there are at least three years of zero polio cases due to wild poliovirus; disease surveillance efforts in countries meet international standards; and each country must illustrate the capacity to detect, report and respond to imported polio cases.
Polio Eradication History with Timeline and Dates
- The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in 1985 launched an initiative to eradicate polio in the Americas by 1990. And in the same year, the Universal Childhood Immunization Initiative was launched jointly by UNICEF and WHO, with the aim of reducing child mortality through effective immunization.
- Rotary International launched a campaign to raise US $120 million in 1987 to fight polio which provided the necessary impetus to begin the polio eradication initiative.
- In 1988, The World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eradicate polio by the year 2000; and the Rotary International and Japanese government committed funds to polio eradication.
- In 1989 1990, Polio outbreaks occurred in China with approximately 5 000 cases reported
- The last case of polio in America occurred in September 1991 in a 3 year old boy called Luis Fermin Tenorio living in Junin, Northern Peru.
- In 1994, North and South America were certified polio-free by the International Commission for the Certification of Polio Eradication.
- The last case of polio in China occurred in 1996 and in the same year, Nelson Mandela 1996 officially launched the Kick Polio out of Africa campaign
- The last case of polio in the Western Pacific region occurred on 19 March 1997 in a 15-month-old girl called Mum Chanty living near Phnom Penh in the Mekong River area of Cambodia.
- In 2000, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed the Global Polio Partners’ Summit in New York, an unprecedented gathering of more than 350 individuals who pledged their commitment to securing a polio-free world in 2005. In the same year, the United Kingdom and Netherlands donated an additional USD 90 million. The UK’s DFID provided USD 50 million for operational costs, surveillance, OPV and personnel. The Netherlands contributed US$ 50 million for surveillance.
- In June 2002, the WHO European Region was certified polio-free
- Somalia had no case of polio for a complete year; the last case was in October 2002.
- Monovalent oral polio vaccine (mOPV) was used as part of eradication efforts because it offers higher protection to type-specific polio than the traditionally-used trivalent OPV. mOPVs became the new recommended polio vaccine of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication (ACPE) in late 2004
- In 2006, Egypt and Niger were officially removed from the polio endemic country list in January.
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.