Washington, D.C., November 30, 2006 – In 1988, the year health organizations around the world moved to eradicate polio, the disease paralyzed at least 350,000 children at a rate of nearly 1,000 each day around the globe. By 2005, 17 years after a comprehensive campaign was launched to administer the polio vaccine, only 2,000 children were struck by the disease.
Authors Tim Brookes and Omar A. Khan, M.D., M.H.S., give an on-the-ground look inside the worldwide effort to eradicate polio in countries from Pakistan to Nigeria in The End of Polio? Behind the Scenes of the Campaign to Vaccinate Every Child On the Planet, published by APHA Press, the publishing unit of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The book explores the work of international health organizations and workers in administering vaccines to men, women and children.
The campaign’s stakes are frighteningly high: If the eradication program fails or misses a few infected children, the entire world could be re-infected with the disease within five years.
Brookes and Khan traveled to Pakistan to accompany polio eradication team members in the field to give an inside view into the successes of and obstacles to one of the world’s last vaccination campaigns. The vaccinations in Pakistan are part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), arguably the largest and most ambitious public health project in history, costing an estimated $4 billion. The four core partners in the GPEI – the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Rotary International – set a goal of eradicating polio worldwide by the year 2000. Although many nations were polio-free by that year, polio cases persist in various parts of the world.
“The book goes back and forth between the big story of polio and the progress against polio,” said Brookes, a leading health author and director of the Professional Writing Program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. “[It] alternates between the big picture chapters and the tight focus micro picture of how a vaccination campaign actually takes place on the ground, what kinds of struggles and obstacles and what kinds of heroism are involved.”
Brookes and Khan interviewed dozens of people who have been on the front lines of the global vaccination effort. The authors tell the stories of planners who map the areas where vaccinations must be provided, health workers who identify where children are being paralyzed and laboratories that confirm where the poliovirus is circulating. The book includes an 8-page insert of color photos of vaccination campaigns in various parts of the world.
The End of Polio explores the problems that still face vaccination efforts in Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and other countries, wrote David L. Heymann, M.D., acting assistant director-general for communicable diseases for the World Health Organization, in the book’s foreword.
“Tim Brookes tells the story of these challenges in a readable and accessible narrative, clearly showing the scope of the eradication program, the challenges that remain, and the consequences of failure,” Heymann wrote.
Donald A. Henderson, M.D., M.P.H., dean emeritus of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., called The End of Polio “one of the best books that I have read which so vividly documents the excitement, the drama, the frustrations and the realities of field work for dedicated individuals doing their best under unbelievably difficult circumstances.”
“Finally, a book that captures the spirit and courage of the countless day-to-day individual efforts which together make up the extraordinary, largely untold story of the global polio eradication initiative, the largest internationally coordinated health effort in history,” wrote Bruce Aylward, M.D., M.P.H., director of the global polio eradication initiative at the World Health Organization.
Brookes has written books on the 2004 U.S. influenza vaccine shortage, the SARS outbreak, asthma and hospice care, including Behind the Mask: How the World Survived SARS and A Warning Shot: Influenza and the 2004 Flu Vaccine Shortage, both published by APHA. He was born in London, England, and educated at Oxford University. Khan has written extensively on topics in global health. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He holds a faculty appointment at the University of Vermont and is board certified in family medicine.
Ordering Information: Published by the American Public Health Association, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-87553-186-1, 206 pages, cost is $39.95 ($35 for APHA members), plus shipping and handling. To order, call toll free (888) 320-APHA; fax (888) 361-APHA; e-mail email@example.com or visit APHA’s Web site: www.aphabookstore.org.
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