4 Responses

  1. Michael Sheldrick
    Michael Sheldrick April 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Jonathan, I note that you cite a particular New York Times article about skeptics of the campaign to eradicate polio, which include Dr. Donald A. Henderson, the former WHO officer who began the drive to wipe out smallpox, amongst its ranks.. You should amend your blog to say that Dr Henderson ‘used’ to be a skeptic.

    Check out this later NYT article by the same reporter who wrote the one you cited above: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/health/15polio.html?ref=donaldgjrmcneil

    It appears Dr. Henderson has changed his mind:
    “I see as much greatly augmented the probability that we can stop wild polio virus,” he said Wednesday in a follow-up interview — the opposite conclusion to the one he had given to the same reporter on Jan. 26.

    “I apologize,” he added. “It’s not my wont to turn on a dime like this. I don’t think I’ve done anything like this before.”

    Also, the point of extended immunisation is about more than reducing case load this year. It reduces life-long case load, and prevents breakouts. Note the measles break out in Australia right now – you may go years without a disease, decide not to immunise, and then there’s a single importation that can cause an epidemic. Keeping cases below 2000 a year is a massive achievement, and slowly, it enables you to close the net. I think the better thing to look at is the case load in endemic countries – as they’re the source of all imported cases, and if we can reduce endemic countries, then breaks out are less likely. And there, there’s huge and exciting news with potential announcements around Nigeria and India. The recent article in the New Scientist is a good insight into this – http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928050.100-dont-let-polio-eradication-slip-away-again.html

  2. Jonathan Pryke
    Jonathan Pryke April 22, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Michael thanks for the correction. It seems the UAE contribution resulted in an adjustment of the funding gap since the start of the week. Progress is being made as we speak!

  3. Heather Pagram
    Heather Pagram April 22, 2011 at 12:38 am

    The eradication of polio is necessary for other communicable diseases to be tackled in such a way as to provide any real long term benefit- these countries need to strengthen their economies in order to provide sanitation and healthcare- they cannot do this with rampaging infectious disease.

    Due to the prevalence of other diseases in polio stricken areas I don’t know how it is possible to predict such economic benefits directly from the eradication of polio, as these individuals are at high risk of other more common infections.

    However it seems shortsighted to argue to shift funding elsewhere as Henderson does, because these epidemics are huge and $1 billion annually would easily be swallowed. In my opinion tackling one thing at a time and unlocking international funding is the only way to begin to solve such problems- ruthless though it may seem when so many are dying of other ailments, it is how the world, and politics, work.

  4. Michael Sheldrick
    Michael Sheldrick April 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for this well argued and well written blog Jonathan. Just want to point out that the funding gap is now actually $665M — see http://www.polioeradication.org/Financing.aspx.

    There are a couple of further points I’ll post about later on. In the meantime, your readers might want to check out the campaign the Global Poverty Project are currently running on polio eradication. We recently met with the Prime Minister to discuss the oppourtunity we have to eradicate polio forever. See how the meeting went at: http://globalpovertyproject.org/blogs/view/355

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