Global Eradication of Polio – Major Milestone Achieved

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Published On November 20, 2014, by .

ColdStar Logistics has always been a strong advocate of optimising the #ColdChain to enable a wider reach of vaccines. Over the past few months we have published several articles on our blog highlighting India’s progress in becoming a Polio-Free nation.

Early this week, Scientists at the US Center for Diseases celebrated the achievement of a ‘major milestone’ in the global eradication of Polio. Of the three forms of poliovirus, a second may have been completely eliminated after mass vaccination campaigns across the globe. The most notable of these campaigns was of Ewan McGregor and the United Nations’ campaign – #ColdChainMission.

Polio, also referred to as poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious viral disease that generally targets young children. It causes paralysis in one out of 200 people and in the worst cases some children die after when the muscles that allow them to breath stop working.

Wild poliovirus type 3 has not been detected for more than two years. Type 2 was eradicated in 1999. Since then there has been huge progress in eliminating the disease. Cases have fallen from 350,000 in 1988 to 416 in 2013. The last case of type 3 poliovirus was detected in Pakistan in November 2012, according to the CDC report. However, a formal process – involving the Polio Global Certification Commission – is required before type 3 can be officially declared eradicated. That will not take place for at least another year.

With all this progress we cannot overlook the resurgence of polio in some countries. The news comes amid separate reports of new cases in South Sudan and Madagascar, and rising infection numbers in Pakistan. In March there were fears that instability in the Middle Eastern region could herald a new outbreak. A World Health Organization official said “Seriously damaged health infrastructure, poor health access and utilisation because of insecurity inside Syria, and massive movements of vulnerable and at-risk populations in and out of Syria – all make controlling the outbreak and rendering health protection to Palestine refugees in Syria and across the region very challenging.”

The same factors, he added, made it hard to guarantee 100 per cent immunisation coverage and to maintain the cold chain needed to protect vaccines from heat.

Type 1 polio remains endemic in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, although recent progress in the east African country has seen the number of cases fall from 53 in 2013 to six this year. However, the opposite is true in Pakistan. Cases have risen from 59 last year to 236, according to the latest data from WHO. Mass movements saw the virus travel from Pakistan to Syria in 2013.

References: (1) The Independent (2) BBC News

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