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Am J Public Health. 1997 June; 87(6): 922–925.
PMCID: PMC1380923

Ethical dilemmas in current planning for polio eradication.


Intensification of polio eradication efforts worldwide raises concerns about costs and benefits for poor countries. A major argument for global funding is the high benefit-cost ratio of eradication; however, financial benefits are greatest for rich countries. By contrast, the greatest costs are borne by poor countries; the Pan American Health Organization has estimated that host countries bore 80% of costs for polio eradication in the Americas. The 1988 World Health Assembly resolution setting up the Polio Eradication Initiative carried the proviso that programs should strengthen health infrastructures. Drastic cuts in donor funding for health make this commitment even more important. Two international evaluations have reported both positive and negative effects of polio and Expanded Programme on Immunization programs on the functioning and sustainability of primary health care. Negative effects were greatest in poor countries with many other diseases of public health importance. If poor countries are expected to divert funds from their own urgent priorities, donors should make solid commitments to long-term support for sustainable health development.

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Selected References

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