was hoped that following polio eradication, immunisation could be stopped.
However the synthesis of polio virus in 2002, made eradication impossible. It
is argued that getting poor countries to expend their scarce resources on an
impossible dream over the last 10 years was unethical. Furthermore, while India
has been polio-free for a year, there has been a huge increase in non-polio
acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). In 2011, there were an extra 47,500 new cases
of NPAFP. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as
deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio
received. Though this data was collected within the polio surveillance system,
it was not investigated. The principle of primum-non-nocere was violated. The
authors suggest that the huge bill of US$ 8 billion spent on the programme, is
a small sum to pay if the world learns to be wary of such vertical programmes
in the future.
Clearly, what should occur is an open
public debate about these issues rather than just taking the word of the
world’s most successful salesperson. Last week Gates told the Daily Telegraph: “The
golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we
would like to be treated.” But the reality is that the golden rule applies
neither at the level of open debate (the opposition is shouted down) or the
children horrifically injured in pursuit of alleged greater good. There is no
indication that he is doing anything but continuing to act high handedly, and
his words should be treated with as much suspicion as before.