Okay. So I got some response from my first blog on PolioPlus. A lot of the chat came from my Facebook page. If you want to see posts I put there, please visit https://www.facebook.com/charlie.wasser.
As part of informing my fellow Rotarians and the general public, my topic in this blog is the current state of the eradication effort. Yes, that means statistics. Yes sometimes statistics are so incredibly boring, who could possibly want to read them and ………..
The statistics here are good and bad. Before I get to the statistics, an overview of the countries still suffering under the yoke of their citizens getting infected by the polio virus is in order.
There are currently 3 countries in the world that are described as being endemic for the polio virus. Endemic means they are potential sources for the polio virus. The viruses that are in these countries each have their own genetic markers. This allows for the location of the source of the virus if a case of polio shows up in another country.
PAIN was an acronym used for polio that took the first letter of the then four endemic countries. January 13, 2013 marked two years since a child was paralyzed by wild poliovirus in India. The country was once considered the most complex challenge to achieving global polio eradication. On February 25, 2012, WHO removed India, one of the four remaining endemic countries, from the list of countries considered to have never interrupted the transmission of wild poliovirus. India has not had a case of polio since January 13, 2011 and no recent environmental samples have detected wild poliovirus. (Most of this paragraph is from the CDC’s website)
The fact that India, with all the political and geographic challenges inherent to India, was able to be certified polio free gives us hope the remaining 3 endemic countries can be certified polio free. The current strategy has a goal of the end of 2018 to be the time when the globe will be certified polio free. Is such a thing possible? I firmly believe it is. I do however look cautiously at what needs to happen……….
(okay, here comes the statistics part – you do want to study the chart!!!!)
COUNTRY All of 2012 January to October, 2013
Afghanistan 37 6
Nigeria 122 49
Pakistan 58 39
Chad 5 0
Ethiopia 0 4
Kenya 0 14
Somalia 0 170
South Sudan 0 3
The 3 endemic countries continue to make the progress we all want to see them make. Their number of new cases are dropping. However, people do travel easily. The expression used is that polio is only a plane ride away. Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan may be a perfect example of that. The genetic markers found in the virus of the people infected in the non-endemic countries indicate the source for all of them is Nigeria. More than likely, the 170 cases in Somalia are related to the political upheaval continuing there. People forced to migrate will do whatever they have to do to survive and will not follow basic hygiene or may not have access to vaccines. This is a breeding ground for all manner of illness of course including polio.
The Endgame Strategy takes into account the reality of case numbers exploding like they did in Somalia. The plan requires immediate response to these areas to get them back under control.
The statistics can be scary. There may be a tendency to assume we will only be able to control the polio virus and not eradicate it. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative through its members have shown that polio can be eradicated by doing such in India. The GPEI has also shown that 10,000,000 children under 5 will be paralyzed by polio over a 40 year peiod if we decide to stop the eradication effort and look to simply control outbreaks.
Where do we go from here? Stay the course of eradicating polio completely from the face of the globe. Please follow this blog and feel free to share it and forward it to anyone you know. This is a worldwide effort that needs to be successful.
PolioPlus Assistant Chair
Rotary District 5170