Lunch Conference, Christopher Wolff (WHO), Geneva, 10/10/12
On October 10th, we welcomed at the Mère Royaume in Geneva Christopher Wolff and Jennifer Linkins that gave us a fascinating talk, on the polio eradication programme on which they’ve been working passionately for the past 10 years at WHO.
Can you believe that humanity has successfully eradicated only one disease – smallpox, last seen in 1977? Will polio, which kills or paralyses young children living in unsanitary conditions be the next one?
Christopher first gave us a great review on the history of this disease, how it became a priority after Franklin Roosevelt’s contracted it and how the introduction of the oral vaccine in 1961 proved so efficient in 1980 already, Polio disappeared from the US. Building on this success, a global programme led by WHO was started in 1988 and in 2006, 99% of polio had been eradicated and in 2012 victory was celebrated in India.
But polio remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan and unless it is eradicated in the 3 remaining countries, the disease could spread widely around the globe. The battle on the ground is not just a case of vaccine delivery – instead, the fight involves overcoming difficult logistics, local insurgencies, suspicion of foreign elements and great game politics.
Jennifer Lipkins gave us then the financial views of the programme and the challenges they are now facing with a funding gap of 790 million to achieve full eradication by 2013.
We thank them for having shared with us their daily fight and truly hope they will be able to celebrate victory by the end of this year for the benefit of humanity.
Please click on the link below to see the presentation: