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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 664-670

Poliomyelitis era in Trinidad from 1940 to 1972 and beyond: Implications for effective global health governance for its eradication

Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mount Hope, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vijay Kumar Chattu
Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, EWMSC Mt. Hope
Trinidad and Tobago
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_319_17

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Background: Acute poliomyelitis (APM/polio) is a viral infection caused by the polio virus that continues to have a fascinating social and economic impact on countries throughout the world. Humans acquire the virus by close personal contact with transmission occurring through the fecal–oral route. The majority of poliovirus infections results in no illness or produces only self-limited symptoms, however in approximately 5% of infected patients flaccid paralysis of the limbs can occur and 1% can die. Although APM is no longer a feared disease mainly due to the development of effective vaccines, its eradication remains elusive. Methods: The aim of this study is to review the historical impact of APM in Trinidad. A retrospective analysis of all cases occurring from 1939 to 1972 was undertaken. Data for the study were derived from two sources the Annual Statistical Reports of the Ministry of Health 1972–2000 and the epidemiological publications of the League of Nations Health Organization and the World Health Organization. Results: There were four outbreaks of APM in Trinidad 1941, 1942, 1954, and 1972. After the final outbreak in 1972, APM was eradicated not only from Trinidad but also all the countries of the Americas mainly through the effective use of the oral polio vaccine. Conclusion: Polio has brought together international agencies, governments, and the people to build an effective public health system around a common vision for health and wellbeing. The polio eradication and endgame strategic plan represents a major milestone in polio eradication developed by global polio eradication initiative. The initiative would still benefit from adopting some of the best practices in governance from other organizations in the global health sector.

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