World Health Summit: Global leaders pledge $2.5 billion for Polio Eradication

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    • Recently, Global leaders pledged $2.5 billion for polio eradication at the World Health Summit.

    Key Points

    • World Health Summit:
      • It is an international health conference which was held in Berlin, Germany, from October 16-18, 2022. 
      • Leaders pledged to give about Rs 19 crore. 
    • Pledging:  
      • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.2 billion to the largest international public health initiative, Global Polio Eradication Initiative  (GPEI). 
      • Humanitarian organization Rotary International pledged $150 million, 
      • the United States pledged 114 million, 
      • Germany over $70 million and 
      • France over $49 million.
    • Funding will help: 
      • The funding will support global efforts to overcome the final hurdles to polio eradication, 
      • Help vaccinate 370 million children annually over the next five years and 
      • Continue disease surveillance across 50 countries.
      • It would also be able to deliver additional health services and immunizations alongside polio vaccines to underserved communities
      • Full funding: The initiative needed $4.8 billion to implement its 2022-2026 strategy fully. If fully funded, the strategy can save up to $33.1 billion in health cost savings this century compared to the price of controlling outbreaks.
    • Declaration: 
      • A declaration endorsing the 2022-2026 strategy was also released by a group of more than 3,000 influential scientists, physicians, and public health experts from around the world. 
      • It called on donors to stay committed to eradication and ensure GPEI is fully funded.
      • The group points to new tactics contained in the programme’s strategy, like the continued roll-out of the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), that make them confident in GPEI’s ability to end polio.
        • Five hundred million doses of nOPV2 have already been administered across 23 countries and field data continued to show its promise as a tool to more sustainably stop outbreaks of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV).
    • Polio Virus and variants:
      • It is endemic in just two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
      • However, after just six cases were recorded in 2021, 29 cases have been recorded so far this year, including a small number of new detections in southeast Africa linked to a strain originating in Pakistan.
    • Polio cases in India:
      • India was declared polio-free in January 2014, after three years of zero cases.
      • The eradication was the result of a successful Pulse Polio campaign.
      • The last case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected in 2011.
      • Subsequently, WHO removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild poliovirus transmission in 2012.
      • India launched the Pulse Polio immunisation programme in 1995, after a resolution for a global initiative of polio eradication was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1988.
      • To further prevent the virus from coming to India, the government has since 2014 made the Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) mandatory for those traveling between India and polio-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

    Global Polio Eradication Initiative  (GPEI)

    • The GPEI is led by national governments with six core partners:
      • Rotary International, 
      • the World Health Organization (WHO), 
      • the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 
      • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 
      • the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 
      • Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. 

    Wild Poliovirus

    • About:
      • Polio is a highly infectious disease, caused by the virus which multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
      • Once that happens, the patient is crippled for life because there is no treatment for the affliction. Colloquially they are referred to as wild polio virus.
    • Variants:
      • There are three types of wild poliovirus:
        • Type 1: still exists but efforts are going on to eradicate it.
        • Type 2: eradicated.
        • Type 3: eradicated.
    • Transmission:
      • The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, mainly through the faecal-oral route or less frequently, by a common vehicle (contaminated water or food).
      • Because the virus lives in the faeces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating.
    • Endemism:
      • Currently, wild poliovirus is endemic in two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan.
      • The detection of Type 1 outside the two countries where the disease is endemic demonstrates the continuous risk of international spread of the disease until every corner of the world is free of Type 1.
    • Symptoms:
      • Minor ones:
        • Tiredness
        • Nausea
        • Headache
        • Nasal congestion
        • Sore throat, cough
        • Stiffness in the neck and back and pain in the arms and legs
      • Major one:
        • Polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis).
        • Polio may be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralysed or if there is an infection of the brain.
    • Cure:
      • Though there is no cure for the polio vaccine. However, it is preventable by a vaccine.

    How a country is declared polio-free?

    • There are three variants of the poliovirus, numbered 1 to 3. For a country to be declared polio-free, the wild transmission of all three kinds has to be stopped.
    • For eradication, cases of both wild and vaccine-derived polio infection have to be reduced to zero.
    • Subsequently, WHO removes the country from the list of countries with active wild poliovirus.

    Conclusion

    • The new detections of polio this year in previously polio-free countries are a stark reminder that if the goal of ending polio everywhere is not delivered, it may resurge globally.

    Source: DTE