GPEI remains encouraged despite recent polio outbreak in Horn of Africa

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative announced on Wednesday that even though there is a polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa, the end of polio is still in sight.

The recent outbreak has paralyzed 105 children in Somalia. Despite this recent outbreak, there is still hope that the end of polio is close to becoming a reality. There were concerns expressed, however, that the recent outbreak would be a major setback in the global polio eradication effort.

"Before these cases in the Horn of Africa, the end of the multibillion-dollar effort appeared to be in sight," National Public Radio said. "The Somali outbreak is now forcing UNICEF, the WHO and other international agencies to dedicate vast resources to boost polio vaccination coverage throughout East Africa and parts of the Middle East. Those are resources that can't be used to attack the virus in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria - which appeared, until now, to be the last few places where polio had a foothold."

Despite the recent outbreak, there is not much of a chance that the setback will derail the global polio eradication campaign. The new Strategic Plan, which will fund the efforts to eradicate polio, has funds to deal with the current outbreak.

"Until polio transmission is interrupted in the endemic countries, outbreaks such as the one in Somalia are to be expected," Dr. Hamid Jafari, director of polio research and operations at the World Health Organization, said. "So long as the budget for the new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan is fully funded, we're well-equipped to pursue endemic and outbreak priorities simultaneously."