Polio Eradication Misses the Mark in 2023

Global Polio Eradication Initiative 2023 goals are unachievable
Polio vaccines 2023
by Gerd Altmann
Geneva (Precision Vaccinations News)

With over thirty-one countries reporting various poliovirus outbreaks in 2023, the goal of eradicating polio this year has become evasive.

Last year, the total number of poliomyelitis samples collected in countries with poliovirus transmission was 12,259 from 40  countries, an increase from 2021.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) recently shared its decade-long perspective on polio eradication. When the IMB was formed, more than 90% of the burden of paralytic polio worldwide had been reduced.

But for the past few years, there has been little change. 

As of September 2023, the IMB's 22nd Report indicated the Polio Programme has failed to meet numerous deadlines.

These failures carry a clear lesson for the current situation, where, once again, leaders of the Polio Programme believe that interruption of poliovirus transmission looks possible.

That lesson is that polio will only be eradicated if the Polio Programme addresses all the domains requiring strategic and operational focus, wrote the IMB.

On September 13, 2023, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced it welcomes the latest IMB report, which presents a rigorous independent review of the program's progress toward its goals, which are to interrupt all remaining wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) transmission and circulating variant poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) transmission by the end of 2023. 

The IMB has concluded that remaining challenges make stopping transmission of WPV1 this year unlikely while ending all variant poliovirus outbreaks will take even more time.

This conclusion was recently shared by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On August 25, 2023, the WHO stated the spread of poliovirus remained a Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding WPV1 and cVDPV and extended the global emergency for an additional three months. 

The 22nd report underscores the urgent need to stop all forms of the poliovirus – because polio detections anywhere remain a threat to people everywhere.

The GPEI understands that recent progress against poliovirus is fragile, and severe challenges remain.

The GPEI remains confident that it can innovate and adapt to this adversity to reach all children in the world's most challenging settings.

Still, the IMB notes that the program cannot fully implement needed solutions without adequate financial resources and political commitment at all levels.

In October 2023, the GPEI Polio Oversight Board will meet to analyze the IMB's recommendations and input from Technical Advisory Groups and country teams to adopt corrective actions that ensure the program's strategic goals are met.  

To warn international travelers of the polio risk, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued a Global Polio Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions Travel Health Notice on September 11, 2023.

The CDC says two types of polio vaccines are in use during 2023.

The inactivated (killed) polio vaccine is offered in the U.S., while the live attenuated (weakened) oral polio vaccine is provided in many countries.

The CDC, WHO, and the GPEI encourage everyone to be vaccinated against polio in 2023.

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