London: The goal to wipe out polio fromthe world by the end of 2012 is "off track", a group ofinternational experts has said, but hailed India for makingremarkable progress in tackling the disease. An expert panel, which monitors the Global PolioEradication Initiative, expressed concern that despite effortsto wipe out the disease, polio outbreaks have been reported in14 countries since the start of 2010. While some 1,000 cases were reported worldwide lastyear, the disease has also resurfaced in four other countries,said the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global PolioEradication Initiative (GPEI).
The experts are particularly concerned about new casesin the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. The Polio Eradication Programme in India aims ateradicating the disease by immunising every child under 5 withthe Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). In 2002, there were 1,613 poliocases in India, but it registered a 94 per cent decline in2010.According to the experts, the Global Polio EradicationInitiative`s target to eradicate it by 2012 might be elusive. Sir Liam said: "There was a big impact in tackling itin the first two decades since the goal. "But we still have this very big rump of cases leftbehind. Tackling the remaining one per cent of polio is thegreatest challenge yet." The experts, who identified a funding gap of 366million pounds, noted that strong political and communityleadership is important in the countries with polio outbreaks.
"Our view remains that stopping polio transmissionneeds to be treated as a global health emergency," they said. "Fourteen countries have had polio outbreaks since thestart of 2010. It is alarming and bad for the programme`smorale that there are still these surprises. "Polio eradication is still possible in the near-termif there is enhanced political commitment, secure funding andstrengthened technical capacity." PTI
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