Childhood Polio Eradication Focuses on Seven Countries
This year, 2023, is when the worldwide community is positioned to entirely interrupt polio transmission in children, per the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Strategy 2022-2026.
The GPEI stated on January 24, 2023, a unique epidemiological window of opportunity has presented itself this year that 'we must capitalize on.'
It is the nature of a highly infectious disease that spreads easily with population movements that outbreaks will continue to occur until polio is gone from all areas.
The spreading of poliovirus is at its weakest point in 2023, and the opportunity to eradicate it is now at its greatest.
For example, Israel launched Operation 2-Drops in April 2022 and reported no new polio cases.
So what is the GPEI's focus for achieving success this year?
The answer is, reaching zero-dose children in the most consequential geographies.
But what are the most consequential geographies?
There are seven subnational areas:
- Eastern Afghanistan;
- Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan;
- Tete province and its hinterland in northern Mozambique;
- Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Northern Yemen;
- Northern Nigeria;
- South-central Somalia.
These areas share specific critical programmatic characteristics. They feature some of the highest and most densely-populated proportions of zero-dose children (either un or under-vaccinated).
And they are also affected by broader humanitarian, complex emergencies, including in some areas insecurity, meaning reaching these most marginalized and last-remaining under-vaccinated communities is all the more challenging.
Within that context, countries must continue their national efforts to protect themselves by maintaining robust disease surveillance and high vaccination coverage.
As of January 28, 2023, there are various polio vaccines available.
A newer vaccine, the nOPV2, was deployed by 22 countries in 2022, reaching about 385 million people.
To achieve success now, 'we have a collective responsibility to keep the focus on children, and success will follow,' wrote GPEI.
In this explanatory video, long-time polio eradicator and Director for polio eradication at WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Hamid Jafari, explains the eradication plan further.