Emory University and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have recently produced publications on the possibility of eradicating polio by the year 2018. If aggressively pursued, this goal can realistically be achieved, permanently making the world a better place by vanquishing one of the most fearsome diseases humanity has ever faced.
The report from Emory, entitled “The Scientific Declaration on Polio Eradication,” calls polio “a highly infectious disease that can cause irreversible paralysis and death.” Spread through fecal particles, sneezing, and coughing, people can be infected and not even know it. Roughly 1% of carriers will have severe symptoms, and a similar percentage of those victims can end up dying from the paralysis that spreads throughout their breathing muscles.
Many of polio’s victims are children; it robs them of a fruitful life, and it steals the value of another community member from society. The potential to reach complete eradication by 2018 is strongly supported by Emory’s researchers; the Declaration makes note of significant advances in recent years, as well as of the clarity and feasibility of GPEI’s plan. Furthermore, it warns that a reduction in both focus and funding for fighting polio would have disastrous effects. A policy of only “routine immunization” and treatment while ignoring mass prevention measures would result in over 200,000 cases per year.
GPEI’s Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan has four main objectives; essentially, they are to detect and interrupt the spread of the disease, to immunize and manage the treatment of patients, to contain outbreaks, and to ensure the sustainability and durability of the program. The 13-point proposal makes the case for the relatively swift removal of all polio from the planet by 2018. Furthermore, it will be updated biannually to account for changing circumstances on the ground.
Getting polio can cause irreversible damage and even death, which are both major financial strains on families with nearly any amount of wealth. Those most likely to suffer from sickness are those who are least able to afford prevention and treatment. The poorest of any society thus face the biggest risk of catching communicable diseases, and an even greater chance of being unable to get the help they need without entering complete financial ruin.
— Jake Simon
Sources: Emory, GPEI