Earlier this year, India reported that it had gone a full year without seeing a new case of polio. India’s success represents a significant and important step forward in the battle to eradicate polio.
The government agencies, NGOs, non-profit organizations and the private sector that contributed so much to this achievement deserve to celebrate, alongside the millions of people who will benefit from it. A success like this – important though it is – is not the end of the story for eradication efforts in India or elsewhere around the world. Rather, it is an opportunity to continue moving toward the day when the global threat of polio will be a distant memory.
A key lesson that emerges from India’s hard-won success is the vital, dynamic role that public/private partnerships have played in making it possible. A good example of cooperation and partnership in the fight against polio is provided by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufactures & Associations’ (IFPMA) Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
This initiative is a public/private partnership among national governments, spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the pharmaceutical industry. Among its goals are strengthening of immunization programs and enhancing surveillance and outbreak response, both crucial to achieving full polio eradication worldwide.
Another critical component of polio eradication efforts has been the cooperation between the public and private sectors on the research and development of new medicines and vaccines. The great strides forward that India has made against polio required government, healthcare professionals, NGO’s and drug makers working together to properly test the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, as well as to define how they would be made available, once approved, across a vast country comprising both enormous urban centers and remote, underdeveloped villages.
These types of efforts are essential to building on the important gains already made.
The success of India’s polio campaign is a testament to the value of partnerships in sustaining scientific and medical progress against one of the most crippling diseases the world ever faced. It is a success that can be replicated in the few other countries around the world where polio remains endemic.