Polio programme: let us declare victory and move on.
Indian J Med Ethics. 2012 Apr-Jun;9(2):114-7
Vashisht N, Puliyel J.
Department of Paediatrics, St Stephens Hospital, Delhi
PubMed – NCBI, PMID: 22591873
It was hoped that following polio eradication, immunisation could be stopped. However the synthesis of polio virus in 2002, made eradication impossible. It is argued that getting poor countries to expend their scarce resources on an impossible dream over the last 10 years was unethical. Furthermore, while India has been polio-free for a year, there has been a huge increase in non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). In 2011, there were an extra 47,500 new cases of NPAFP. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Though this data was collected within the polio surveillance system, it was not investigated. The principle of primum-non-nocere was violated. . . .
. . . January 12, 2012, marked a significant milestone for India. It was the first anniversary of the last reported wild polio case from India. Keeping the country free of polio for a whole year was a feat that is a tribute to the Government of India and its 2.3 million vaccinators, who visited over 200 million households to ensure that the nearly 170 million children (under five years in age) were repeatedly immunised with oral polio vaccine OPV) (1). India’s programme has largely been self financed. The country has thus far spent more than Rs 120 billion (US$2.5 billion US$ 1 = Rs 50) on polio eradication after the programme started here in 1994 (2). The $2.5 billion spent by India must be seen against $2 billion spent by the United States of America on world-wide polio eradication (3), the $1.3 billion expended by Bill Gates (4), and the $0.8 billion raised by the loudest voice for polio eradication – Rotary International – over the last 20 years (5). . . .
. . . The charade about polio eradication and the great savings it will bring has persisted to date. It is a paradox, that while the director general of WHO, Margret Chan, and Bill Gates are trying to muster support for polio eradication (22) it has been known to the scientific community, for over 10 years, that eradication of polio is impossible. . . .