Editorials

Mass polio vaccination

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7040.1178 (Published 11 May 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1178
  1. Jagdish Chander,
  2. Subha Subrahmanyan
  1. Reader and head Demonstrator Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College Hospital, Chandigarh 160036, India

    Eradication by 2000 is a realistic goal

    Albert Sabin always emphasised that the global eradication of wild poliovirus was possible but that to achieve eradication in developing countries would require mass administration of oral polio vaccine. Experiences in Cuba and Czechoslovakia have proved the effectiveness of this approach, but it was only with its deployment in Brazil in the 1980s that its role in eradicating the virus from a broad geographical area was realised.1 After 40 years of mass administration of oral and inactive poliovirus vaccines a pattern of impact is emerging. Both the vaccines have proved records of safety and efficacy, and there is now no doubt that applying oral polio vaccine over short periods and on a mass scale can control poliomyelitis in any country, irrespective of its geographical location or level of sanitation.

    The World Health Organisation has played a vital part in the development and use of polio vaccines since their inception. Since 1973 it has been directly responsible for the custody and distribution of the Sabin strains of the oral polio vaccine and has supervised the production laboratories.2 In 1974 it started the expanded programme on immunisation covering six childhood diseases, including poliomyelitis, and progress has been such that in 1988 the organisation declared its commitment to the goal of global eradication of poliomyelitis by 2000.3

    Eradication is defined as zero cases of paralytic poliomyelitis due to wild …

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