Geneva: Polio has indeed been a major handicap to world health and WHO knows it better! The World Health Organization has communicated its abiding vision of seeing a world free of polio in a span of one to two years.
The vision which carried a deadline of 2005 faced a gap in fructification, sending it off mark by more than two years. This was mainly due to the immunization boycott sparked off in Northern Nigeria by stiff-necked Islamic clerics in the year 2003.
The present deadline of 2006 does seem bleak, with polio cases prevailing in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. WHO's technical advisory panel has said that these countries will probably need more than a year to evict the virus. WHO advisory panel chairman Steve Cochi said, "All these countries can eradicate polio. Success in these areas clearly depends on political will."
Mr. Steve Cochi stressed that the effective employment of the evolved and promising vaccine for polio available since 2005, will indeed give these countries the weapon to eradicate the virus, provided they ensure all children are immunized with the vaccine.
Vaccination programs commenced in Nigeria in July 2004 after local officials decided to lift the 11-month boycott. But the delay already set in post-boycott, has retarded the process by a good many years. This has affected nearly 1,500 children and caused a huge dent on the exchequer to the tune of US$450 million (360 million) spent on emergency measures.
David Heymann, the WHO director-general's representative for polio eradication confirmed that, despite aspersions cast by several health experts on the viability of polio eradication, the world's global body is pretty convinced of its method to wipe out this malady. "Countries don't want to stop this program," he said. "Donors are still with us."