Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Global eradication of polio: the case for “finishing the job”

Chandrakant Lahariya

While seven years have passed since 2000, the target set for the eradication of polio, success remains elusive. In 2006, despite coordinated international efforts, there was no major breakthrough in containing the polio virus, which persists in a few pockets in the four countries in which it is endemic. The polio eradication programme faces new hurdles such as importation, re-emergence and failure of political and community mobilization. The decreasing morale of health workers and volunteers, doubts about the efficacy of oral polio vaccine and ever-increasing programme costs and funding challenges are other issues to be addressed.

This paper describes the ongoing conventional strategy adopted for polio eradication, then analyses existing challenges and some possible solutions. The author suggests that major modifications and additions to the ongoing conventional strategy are required in order to create a multi-pronged, area-specific strategy that can finish the job of polio eradication. This should include an area-specific approach, community dialogue, enhanced political advocacy and compulsory vaccination, as well as the use of inactivated polio vaccine in endemic countries even before the transmission of wild polio virus has been halted. This appears to be the best way to achieve eradication at the earliest opportunity.