Henderson and others have suggested the extraordinary efforts needed for polio eradication might be better spent on other health programs, including routine vaccination programs for childhood diseases. But he conceded that transitioning to a control program would be difficult. “If not eradication, how does one accomplish a ‘soft landing’ which could sustain the global program on immunization?” Henderson said.
Aylward said the WHO and its partners, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aren’t yet considering pushing back their latest deadline to eradicate polio by 2018.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the reemergence and spread of polio out of Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose “a serious threat to our ability to eradicate polio.”
“Conflicts in many areas where polio is circulating are hampering efforts to vaccinate but success remains within reach,” Frieden said.
Still, the independent board monitoring the progress being made on polio has called for overhauling the program.
“Few involved in (polio eradication) can give a clear account of how decisions are made,” concluded a recent report by the group. “If a billion-dollar global business missed its major goal several times, it would be inconceivable that it would not revisit and revise its organizational and decision-making structure.”