Status of polio globally
Wild poliovirus continued to circulate in Afghanistan last year, with 21 people recorded with polio, and 12 people in Pakistan. This is despite the fact that both countries undertook new vaccination campaigns through the National Emergency Action Plan, with a focus on closing any immunity gaps.
In August, Nigeria marked two years since detecting any wild polio virus.
Battling circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus
In 2018, the following countries experienced outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV):
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (20 people)
- Niger (9 people)
- Nigeria (34 people)
- Papua New Guinea (26 people)
- Somalia (12 people) and
- Mozambique (1 person) experienced outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV).
These cases are still rare and only happen in places where immunity is low.
In the last few months of 2018, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative worked on a new strategy for the period of 2019 to 2023, which will be launched mid 2019. The strategy moves the deadline for polio eradication to 2023, three years after the original deadline of 2020.
A personal perspective of polio
The Federal Member for Ballarat and Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, expressed her personal support for completing work on polio eradication at the World Polio Day event on 18 October, 2018:
“As a Patron of Polio Australia, a ‘One Last Push’ Polio Champion and the Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, I’m always very happy to be part of this event. As many of you know, polio is an issue close to my heart because my mum battled the virus when she was 17.
Within a generation, we have eradicated polio not only from Australia but also from all but a handful of countries globally. That is one of the great success stories in global public health.
It’s a story that serves as an excellent example of the importance of vaccines; and the importance of foreign aid.
But we know that the fight is not yet won. We know that the disease is still endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
And this year we’ve had an outbreak right on Australia’s doorstep, in Papua New Guinea – a reminder that this fight is not over and that as long as polio exists anywhere, it remains a threat everywhere. So today we must redouble our commitment to vaccinate every child against polio and to eradicate this disease once and for all.
Both sides of politics have supported the Global Polio Eradication Initiative over the last seven years – and will continue to do so.”