Anti-polio campaigners have launched a bold initiative to create the ‘world’s biggest commercial’ highlighting the urgency of eradicating polio. And you can be a part of it.
‘This close’ is an advocacy video with a difference. In addition to including household names like Bill Gates, Desmond Tutu and Amanda Peet, the campaign features thousands of ordinary people from across the world. All you have to do is upload your photo and you will be added to the video.
The message is simple: we are tantalisingly close to defeating polio. For good.
There were 223 polio cases in the world last year, the lowest level in history and a huge improvement on the hundreds of thousands of children affected just two decades ago.
Yet the home stretch of this global public health marathon is a demanding uphill struggle. The remote areas where polio persists are hard to reach and will, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, require the use of an injected vaccine rather than the oral dose which has been used until now.
The injected vaccine is inactivated (and thus not as easy as oral drops to administer) and more expensive. A new US$5.5 billion (€4.2 billion) five-year strategy to wipe out polio by 2018 will be launched this week as part of World Immunization Week.
The oral live vaccine can, in rare cases, revert to a form capable of causing disease, including paralysis. As the incidence of wild polio diminishes, countries usually move from the oral vaccine to the injected vaccine.
Many industrialised countries have already switched from oral polio to the inactivated injectable vaccine. The oral vaccine was discontinued in the US in 2000 and in the UK in 2004.