New six-year plan looks to end polio by 2018

At the Global Vaccine Summit on April 25, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative announced recent pledges in support of a comprehensive six-year plan that hopes to end all types of polio by 2018.

With the number of children being affected by polio at an all time low, the GPEI looks to use this opportunity to eradicate the disease. In 2012, 223 children were paralyzed by polio; 19 children were paralyzed by polio in 2013.

There is only a narrow window for this opportunity, however. Advances made in 2012 have helped curb the spread of polio, but if more is not done, a resurgence in the disease could be seen.

"After millennia battling polio, this plan puts us within sight of the endgame," World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said. "We have new knowledge about the polio viruses, new technologies and new tactics to reach the most vulnerable communities. The extensive experience, infrastructure and knowledge gained from ending polio can help us reach all children and all communities with essential health services."

The plan looks to tackle the main issues with vaccination and the polio disease. There are many operational challenges that impede vaccination of children, such as densely populate urban areas and to reach areas. The plan will lay out how to use the GPEI's resources in order to best reach these children.

"Ending polio will not only be an historic feat for humanity, but also a huge part of our efforts to reach every hard-to-reach child with a range of life-saving vaccines," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said.