Immunization experts from the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) were among the hundreds of scientists, doctors and other experts from around the world who signed the Scientific Declaration on Polio Eradication, declaring that an end to the paralyzing disease is achievable and endorsing a comprehensive new strategy to secure a lasting polio-free world by 2018.
The declaration was launched April 11, coinciding with the 58th anniversary of the announcement of the Jonas Salk polio vaccine.
The more than 400 signatories to the declaration urged governments, international organizations and civil society to do their part to seize the historic opportunity to end polio and protect the world's most vulnerable children and future generations from this debilitating but preventable disease. The declaration calls for full funding and implementation of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). With polio cases at an all-time low and the disease remaining endemic in just three countries, the GPEI estimates that ending the disease entirely by 2018 can be achieved for a cost of approximately $5.5 billion.
Of the 433 exerts who signed the declaration, seven are current or former staff of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO): Dr. Jon Andrus, PAHO Deputy Director; Dr. Gina Tambini, Manager of PAHO's Family and Community Health Area; Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, Coordinator of PAHO's Comprehensive Family Immunization Project; Dr. Carlyle Guerra de Macedo, PAHO Director Emeritus; Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice-President of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute; and Dr. Akira Homma, Chairman of Policy and Strategy Council at Fiocruz, Brazil.
The region of the Americas was the world's first region to eradicate polio—in 1991—following an initiative started by PAHO/WHO in 1985.
"We are confident that by working together, the other regions of the world will also be able to achieve polio eradication," said Dr. Tambini.