Dr Roland Sutter of the WHO Polio Eradication Campaign said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the goal can be reached.
He looks at the lessons learned from the eradication campaign and the future direction of global health policy.
While some argue that investment should now be directed towards general strengthening of health systems in poor countries, others believe that measles, rubella and other diseases could potentially be eradicated.
Dr Sutter notes that the polio eradication infrastructure is, in some cases, the only organised health system available to remote populations in developing countries where polio is endemic.
“Polio has more than 10,000 people in the field. Routine (immunisation) has very few, measles has nothing. Whatever has happened with measles and routine is already dependent on the polio infrastructure. These are trained people so, yes, it would be a shame if this [infrastructure] all disappeared.”
Dr Sutter says the polio campaign has brought together a broad coalition of public and private sector players – from the Rotary Club to the Gates Foundation – in pursuit of a common goal. He says polio eradication is already a model for the control and eradication of other diseases.