Life Style

Billions of dollars to end polio, and soon

As the world adapts to the idea of ​​coexisting with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future, the World Health Organization is planning to eradicate another tragedy that has already been going on for thousands of years. It’s a poliovirus.

The World Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership led by the national government and health groups, announced $ 5.1 billion on Wednesday. Plan to eradicate polio By 2026.

Polio can cripple or kill people who suffer from polio. For decades, this initiative has attempted to achieve a polio-free world by immunizing all children against the virus, but with limited success.

Many countries dealt with sporadic outbreaks of polio before the emergence of the coronavirus, but the pandemic Some polio vaccination programs stopped, Exacerbated the trend for at least a few months. Last year, there were 1,226 polio worldwide, compared to 138 in 2018.

There was also some good news. In August, African countries Declared to be free of wild poliovirus,leave Afghanistan and Pakistan As the only country where polio is endemic. And in November, the World Health Organization granted the first emergency permit to a new vaccine that promises to minimize the outbreak of polio.

“It’s time to double, stop infections and enable a polio-free world,” said John Vertefuille, head of polio eradication at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the global initiative partners.

Previous efforts to eradicate polio have been hampered by inadequate funding and lack of political commitment. This can be an even more difficult task as Covid-19 continues to squeeze attention and resources.

The new strategy includes policies aimed at increasing political commitment while taking pandemics into account, Dr. Vertefeuille said. It has two important goals: integrating polio programs with other medical programs and focusing on areas with chronically low immunization rates. The plan also outlines communication strategies to secure vaccine supply and increase vaccine acceptance.

The plan designers consulted with more than 40 civil society organizations, academic institutions, and donors to help integrate polio eradication with other health challenges.

When trying to join a community in a region that is hesitant or even hostile to vaccines, “it’s easy to say, but at least in my opinion, it’s heading in the right direction,” said Walter, Deputy Director of the United States.・ Dr. Orenstein said. Former director of the Emory Vaccine Center and the US Immunization Program.

Dr. Orenstein was optimistic about the overall new strategy, especially the tactics for combining polio with other health programs for political support.

“Eradication is a very relentless goal. One infection is too many,” he said. But the new plan “clearly shows that they are taking into account the lessons learned.”

Polio vaccination from March to July last year Campaign was interrupted In more than 30 countries, the number of unvaccinated children is increasing and the incidence of vaccine-derived polio is increasing.

Currently widely used oral polio vaccines contain attenuated viral strains. Children vaccinated with this vaccine can infect the environment with the virus through feces. From there, it can infect unprotected people. When the virus is transferred from an unvaccinated person to another, genetic changes can return the virus to a form that can cause paralysis.

About 90% of polio outbreaks are the result Vaccine-induced poliovirus.. In 2020, more than 1,000 cases were detected in 29 countries, far more than in the previous year. The new oral vaccine, introduced in November, is designed to stabilize the virus more genetically and is believed to minimize the risk of vaccine-induced cases.

“It’s not a magic bullet that solves all our problems. For the vaccine to work, we need to reach people,” said Simona Zipursky, WHO’s adviser on polio eradication. “But we feel that it really helps to stop these outbreaks sustainably.”

The new vaccine is approved for emergency use only and qualified countries must promise to monitor its safety and efficacy. Over 20 million doses have already been distributed.

The original tragedy of wild poliovirus outbreaks currently occurs only in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since 2018, the Taliban’s ban on home-to-home vaccination has missed about 3 million children in vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan. Most of the outbreaks in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020 occurred in these areas.

“Understanding how access can be gained through dialogue with them remains an important focus of the program,” said Dr. Vertefeuille, referring to the Taliban.

In Pakistan, the Pashto-speaking community near the Afghan border makes up about 15% of the country’s population, but more than 80% of wild polio cases. The number of cases has increased since 2018 due to vaccine hesitation and the dissemination of false information through social media.

“These problems have certainly been around for a long time, and the suspension of Covid has led to a fairly dramatic and fairly rapid increase in the number of cases,” said Dr. Vertefeuille.

The polio eradication program focuses on immunizing hard-to-reach communities in both countries and training older female health care workers who have been successful in convincing caregivers to vaccinate their children.

The Global Initiative has set up two teams to respond to outbreaks within 72 hours. One is in the eastern Mediterranean region (composed of 21 countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan), and the other is sub-Saharan Africa. The strategy also involves the Minister of Health in the Eastern Mediterranean region, requiring the government to focus on peer polio rather than the World Health Organization.

Dr. Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s Special Assistant to Health, said: “We look forward to working with our international partners to create a polio-free world.”

Another country where polio was endemic, Nigeria, was declared polio-free in June last year after tackling some of the same challenges. Commitments from political leaders at all levels of the government have turned the tide, including getting grandchildren vaccinated on television.

Even when health challenges are competing in these underfunded countries to revive polio as a priority, authorities are using programs to quell polio to control Covid-19 and other illnesses. It emphasizes that it can be undone. Be prepared for emergencies. “

During the coronavirus pandemic, more than 31,000 polio workers in more than 30 countries participated in Covid-19 surveillance, contact tracing, hand hygiene supplies, medical personnel and frontline workers training Focused on working on.

In Pakistan, the Polio Institute has tested and sequenced the coronavirus, and the polio phone line has become the national information center for information about Covid-19. Polio workers trained nearly 19,000 health care workers and hired 7,000 religious leaders and 26,000 influential people.

In Nigeria, healthcare professionals tracked Covid-19’s healthcare needs using data systems and analytics configured for polio. Polio workers were equally helpful during the outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, polio vaccination was bundled with the delivery of other vaccines and other health essentials such as vitamin A and anthelmintics. Even if polio-vaccinated children are too young to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, polio workers can combine vaccination efforts with the Covid-19 vaccination.

At the same time, the turmoil over the Covid-19 vaccine is affecting polio vaccination campaigns, said Melissa Corkum, senior manager of UNICEF’s polio outbreak response. Polio workers “have to spend a lot of time educating and communicating with their parents and caregivers at the front door,” she said.

In Nigeria, the first country to introduce the new polio vaccine, vaccination campaigns “started almost in parallel with the deployment of Covid. In fact, they may have taken place on the exact same day in slightly different regions. There is, “said Zipursky.

Polio workers faced many questions and concerns about the two vaccines and emphasized the need to prepare the correct information. “That was a really good lesson.”

Billions of dollars to end polio, and soon

Source link Billions of dollars to end polio, and soon

Back to top button