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Committee Chair: James Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University


In 1988, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched with the goal of eradicating polio by the year 2000. After 25 years, many factors and barriers still challenge this large public health campaign with new cases of polio being reported annually. This policy analysis1 examines the roots of this initiative to eradicate polio, its scope, the successes and setbacks during the last 25 years, and the current state of affairs. The analysis looks at the background of polio eradication including its origin, the concept of eradication with the focus on vaccines and smallpox eradication, the context of health promotion on a global scale, current strategies to eradicate polio, and its barriers. Utilizing a healthscape assessment, the analysis examines several factors that affect the barriers to polio eradication including political, economic, social, and containment. Using Kingdon’s model of "streams” to analyze policy, which implies opening a policy window, three options are discussed for solving the current impasse of polio eradication: using force, respecting individual freedoms, and gaining support of those vulnerable to fundamentalist “propaganda”. In conclusion, polio eradication is technically feasible, economically desirable, and politically doable. Vaccination and epidemiological barriers will be resolved with time, yet the most urgent issues to focus on presently are the local political barriers. Disregarding these issues will result in stagnation of progress to polio eradication, a burden which will have undue negative consequences to the whole of humanity.

Presentation: 26 minutes