Polio elimination could save $50 billion

Research led by the non-profit Kid Risk and published in the November issue of Vaccine estimated that the global campaign to eliminate polio will save between $40 billion and $50 billion if it is eradicated within five years.

The study is the first comprehensive evaluation of the costs and benefits of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is one of the biggest projects ever taken on by the worldwide health community, reports. The GPEI was formed in 1988.

It is estimated that the GPEI, “will prevent about 8 million cases of potentially deadly paralytic polio, while assisting the distribution of life-saving vitamin A,” the authors of the study said, Bloomberg reports.

“This study presents a clear case for fully and immediately funding global polio eradication, and ensuring that children everywhere, rich and poor, are protected from this devastating disease,” Tachi Yamada, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, said.

There is currently an $810 million funding gap for a $2.6 billion dollar plan to eradicate the disease by 2013.

“The worldwide polio eradication campaign is practically...close to victory," Global post reported. "Polio was endemic in 125 countries 25 years ago. Today the disease is prevalent in just four countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, but there are outbreaks in several other countries. Until polio is stopped in the endemic countries, outbreaks are inevitable elsewhere because the virus travels so easily.”