The Taliban takes on the World Health Organization in today’s SHOWDOWN! Can the World Health Organization completely eradicate polio, or will the Taliban frustrate and negate two and a half decades worth of progress?
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO):
Strength: The World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, continues to lead the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which over the past 26 years reduced polio by 99% and vaccinated 3 billion children. Weakness: WHO cannot mandate or effect any changes without the cooperation of local, state, and national cooperation. Essentially, if a country or region refuses to comply with the GPEI, the WHO is powerless. Special Weapon: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has employed a strategic mission with WHO to permanently eradicate polio within 6 years at a cost of approximately $6 billion.
Strength: Taliban control and influence in North Waziristan, Pakistan, prevent vaccinators from performing their duties to eradicate polio. The Taliban has instilled fear in the locals by making threats to those who attempt to get vaccinated and declaring wild claims that the polio vaccine is a western conspiracy against Islam. Weakness: Some of those under the Taliban’s control understand the importance of the vaccine and risk their lives to get their children vaccinated. The Taliban cannot imbibe the whole populace with its radical ideas. Special Weapon: Guns. The Taliban has shot dead over 60 vaccinators and their police guards in the past two years. The Taliban’s presence will constantly interfere with the WHO’s goals.
Who will take the polio crown? Hopefully, WHO will, but if the Taliban continues to hinder the progress of the GPEI, then polio could spread rapidly through the region. The cost to sweep a large region with polio vaccinations would be immense and a major blow to the GPEI. However, the Taliban alone does not frustrate WHO’s efforts. The extremist militant group in western Africa, Boko Haram, and the Taliban presence in Afghanistan both complicate the efforts of the GPEI. Complete eradication of the disease would prevent polio from resurfacing, as was the case with other disease, including yaws, hookworm, and malaria. The success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative would confer a social, economic, and humane justice to future generations.
Sources and Further Reading Materials:
- Better by Atul Gawande