Africa: Response to Polio Outbreaks Shows Global Eradication Plan Is Working
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Just as we were seeing record-low cases of polio worldwide and coming closer than ever to eradication, 105 new cases of wild polio have been identified in Kenya and Somalia, raising new concerns about low coverage and inaccessible populations in that area. While the outbreaks are undoubtedly a setback, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) had anticipated that sporadic cases would occur in vulnerable settings during the final push for polio eradication, and it’s noteworthy that the situation has been met with one of the quickest and most effective emergency responses to date.
Although polio has been cornered in a handful of countries, the last vestiges of the disease will be the most difficult to stop. For example, political instability and insecurity in some areas –which in Nigeria and Pakistan culminated in the targeted murder of health care workers engaged in delivering services earlier this year — hinder access to at-risk children and can fuel the risk of outbreaks. Fortunately, containing outbreaks, such as those in the Horn of Africa, is a crucial part of theGPEI’s Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018.
- Health Care