The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will allocate $1.2 billion to the global polio eradication effort.
The funds will be used to implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative strategy through 2026. The foundation said in a statement Sunday that the initiative aims to end the polio virus in the last two endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is also used to prevent This was announced at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Sunday. The foundation said in a statement on its website that it has donated nearly $5 billion to polio eradication initiatives. This initiative aims to integrate the polio campaign into the broader health service while expanding the use of a new type 2 oral polio vaccine.
The statement said that the group is also working to strengthen national health systems so that countries are prepared for future health threats.
“The final stages of eradication are by far the toughest, but our foundation continues to work toward a polio-free future and we are optimistic that we will soon achieve it.” So far this year, Pakistanis have reported 20 polio cases, all in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Afghanistan has registered two cases this year but previously had no access to a vaccine due to violence and the banning of polio teams in Taliban-controlled areas. However, just months after seizing power in Afghanistan, the Taliban agreed to allow UN health workers to launch a nationwide campaign. Pakistan targets polio workers It has long fought against Islamic extremists. Police protect them by falsely claiming that vaccination is a Western campaign to make children sterile.
This year, they face new challenges as unprecedented rainfall destroys road networks and health facilities, curtails vaccination campaigns, and displaces communities.
Billions of dollars have been poured into efforts to eradicate polio since 1988 (the program costs about $1 billion each year), but the World Health Organization and its partners are determined to eradicate the disease.
Deadlines for eradication have been missed time and time again, and have consistently failed. Adapting to challenges is advised. For example, in recent years, there have been more cases of polio associated with oral vaccines used in eradication efforts than with the virus in the wild.
By comparison, smallpox is easily identified by its characteristic red rash, expediting outbreak detection and the initiation of a corresponding vaccination program. A single dose of the cowpox-based smallpox vaccine protected almost everyone, but the oral polio vaccine was used in about 150 countries as recently as 2016, killing 85% of children completely. Three or more doses are required for protection.
Developed by Albert Sabin, this vaccine uses a live, weakened poliovirus. If a weakened virus is transmitted from person to person in an unimmunized community for an extended period, it can undergo genetic alterations and revert to a form that causes paralysis. One such strain caused polio in an unvaccinated Rockland County man in New York in June.
Most cases worldwide are caused by derivatives of oral vaccines against type 2 poliovirus. The Gates Foundation funded the development of a new version that cannot return to pathogens.
Many experts also question whether more funding is needed to eradicate polio, as the initiative is already the most funded public health sector in the world and rarely underfunded. is presented.
WHO and its partners have reduced polio incidence by more than 99%, but most of this progress has been made in the first decade. The disease still has stubborn roots in the war-torn regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with dozens of vaccine-induced outbreaks in Africa and elsewhere, including the United States and Israel, in recent years.
An independent commission established to assess progress in eradication efforts has repeatedly identified serious strategic shortcomings by countries, WHO, and their donors, particularly reluctance to change course. Attitudes are fueling a polio resurgence that could ultimately make polio possible. The Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by a group of governments, including the Gates Foundation, Rotary International, the World Health Organization, and the United States centers for disease control and prevention.