Cease-fires only defense in battle against polio

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Once virtually eradicated, polio again stalks the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The innocent victims are mostly young children. The perpetrators are insurgents and indifferent governments. The polio resurgence is preventable and it is time to pull out an old but proven technique to halt its spread: Days of Tranquility.

This 30-year-old quaintly named tactic involves a negotiated cease-fire during which insurgents and governments allow humanitarian groups to reach children trapped by fighting and immunize them against infectious diseases, such as polio. Key United Nations agencies and non-government organizations must be permitted to implement Days of Tranquility without delay in three areas: Somalia and its border regions with Kenya and Ethiopia, the conflict zones of Syria and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Skeptics might call the idea quixotic, especially considering the participants and the ferocity of the fighting, but the Days of Tranquility concept has succeeded before in the midst of deadly conflicts.

Source: The News Tribune (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, public-private partnerships, vaccines