Friday, October 18, 2013
Blog 6: Polio Outbreak in Pakistan is effecting global eradication effort
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has been in effect for a little over a year now but Pakistan is one of the last places in the world that still has an issue with polio. Polio is a viral disease that effects the nervous system and can cause permanent paralysis. The $5.5 billion eradication program's goal is to vaccinate 250 million children a number of times each year to prevent the virus from spreading. This program will also put extra focus on 70 countries that struggle with the virus. The Taliban placed a ban on the vaccination program in June 2012, and today it is threatening the success of the global effort to eradicate polio. The vaccination was banned because the Taliban believes that the program is a plot to sterilize Muslims. The head of the GPEI in Pakistan, Elias Durry, says that this was a concern from the beginning and is worried that this ban can undo the progress that has been made thus far in Pakistan and around the world. In other regions of Pakistan many believe that the program is a new method of spying.
Dozens of children in North Waziristan have been crippled by this disease in the past six months, making this region the worst affected area in Pakistan. It is no coincidence that this area is also under Taliban control. Sewage samples from major cities reveal that the virus is spreading to isolated areas and will soon reach densely populated areas. Along with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are highly targeted areas of the GPEI. Fortunately over the past couple of decades the number of total polio cases has dropped from 350,000 to 223. According to the GPEI there were 296 confirmed cases worldwide in 2013. Unfortunately, 43 of these cases were found in the tribal regions of Pakistan were the government is known to be negligent.
The GPEI program is a necessary and valiant effort to eliminate polio globally. With any foreign aid program there will be general concerns but it is always assumed that it will be beneficial and for the greater good. Cultures should be considered when doing a global program because there are certain boundaries that need to be respected. In this case with Pakistan having the highest standing rates of Polio there should be more information about the disease and the vaccination program so people are more aware of what is really happening.
October 18, 2013