Worldwide eradication of wild poliovirus type 3

Amanda Lyons

25/10/2019 2:42:32 PM

The World Health Organization confirmed the news on World Polio Day, which brings the world significantly closer to being completely polio free.

Polio vaccination in Afghanistan.
A health worker gives a child polio vaccine in Afghanistan. (Image: Hedayatullah Amid)

On World Polio Day yesterday, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) officially declared the world free of wild poliovirus (WPV) type 3.
It also emphasised its commitment to achieving the same for the final remaining strain, type 1.
‘The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health,’ Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chair of the GPEI Oversight Board, said.
‘Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains.’
The GPEI credits investment in skilled workers, cutting-edge tools, a global network of laboratories and rigorous surveillance for the achievement, and cautions that current efforts must continue to ensure the complete eradication of all strains of WPV.
‘It is within our own hands to also finish type 1 poliovirus, but we must muster the necessary political and societal will to do so,’ Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesperson for the polio eradication effort at WHO, said.
‘This [result] is extremely encouraging, but … also underscores that the strategies work only if they are fully implemented and financed.’ 
WPV type 2 was declared globally eradicated by the WHO in 2015, while WPV1 is currently confined to two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Efforts to eradicate the disease in both countries have been hampered by mistrust of vaccination programs which has, at times, even resulted in serious violence towards healthcare workers.
It has been estimated by the Gates Foundation, a GPEI partner, that its strategy will require $3.27 billion in support. But the GPEI has also made an investment case outlining the financial benefits of polio eradication, calculating that efforts so far have saved more than US$27 billion in health costs worldwide since 1988, with a further estimate of US$14 billion in savings by 2050 if a polio-free world can be sustained.
All types of WPV have been eradicated in Australia since 2002.

Disease eradication Polio vaccination Vaccine hesitancy World Health Organization

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