New plan to fight polio revealed
Scientists and researchers gathered in Geneva this week at the World Health Organization's annual meeting of health ministers discussed a new strategy to rid the world of polio, The Associated Press reports.
But some experts say the strategy, which targets problems in countries such as Indian, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan by closely monitoring the situations and holding governments more accountable for outbreaks, is hardly new.
"I'm not sure how the new strategy differs from the ones adopted in 2007, 2004 and 1999," Dr. Donald Henderson, who headed the WHO's smallpox eradication program, told The Associated Press.
The Associated Press reports that the WHO is targeting 2012 as the goal by which polio. which can lead to paralysis and mostly hits children five years old and younger, will be eradicated. The disease is spread through dirty water.
Since 1988, when the WHO and other health organizations banded together to eradicate polio, the disease has almost been wiped off the map.
But as the process draws out and surprise outbreaks, such as a recent one in Tajikistan, are reported, experts are concerned that those who are funding the eradication efforts will grow weary and donate their money elsewhere, according to the report.
The director of the WHO's polio department said the effort must be seen through.
"You don't eradicate polio from 124 countries by doing it wrong," Dr. Bruce Aylward told The Associated Press. "Either we finish eradication or we let the virus out and between 200,000 to 400,000 kids every year will be paralyzed."