Watch here on YouTube the BBC News Impact programme which hosted a debate today during which the US$ 8 billion polio eradication vaccination programme was put under fire. Defending the programme was an advisor to the Pakistan Government and also the World Health Organisation’s polio programme Director, Dr. Hamid Jafari. Putting very eloquently the case against the programme was Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Paediatrics of St Stephen’s hospital Delhi.
Dr Puliyel’s criticisms can be viewed @ 6m 19 and @ 11m 16.
The programme presenter posed the question of why spend all this money when it is diverting resources from bigger killers. Annual deaths of 37 in Afghanistan, 58 in Pakistan and 122 Nigeria respectively were compared to annual malaria deaths of 600,000 and HIV/Aids of 1.7 million.
Dr Puliyel pointed to major problems with the programme:
- non polio paralysis cases were 61,000 in India and are associated with polio vaccination campaigns;
- “vertical” [ie. single] disease programmes address only one disease and divert resources from other areas;
- the disease cannot be eradicated and polio vaccination campaigns will have to continue forever.
Dr Puliyel also compared what happened to the DPT vaccination programme during the polio campaigns. DPT coverage dropped from 70% to 55% because the DPT programme is not being delivered to the patients and polio is instead.
When asked whether the polio programme was worth the money he answered:
I do not believe this vertical programme has improved anything where public health is concerned” and that the US$8 billion was “Well spent if at least we learn never to spend money again on a vertical programme like this in the future“.
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