The Reemergence of Polio

by tuftsigl
Aug 23
Aparna Dasaraju is majoring in Peace and Justice Studies and is in the class of 2016.  She is an Oslo Scholar.
Time goes by very quickly in DC! The past couple of weeks have been very lively with EG Justice. I am continuing to learn more about the projects we have going on and the issues we are working on at EG Justice. Recently, we just started up a new project to take on health issues in Equatorial Guinea. As the government continues to poorly allocate resources towards public services and the needs of communities, health and education, among other sectors, are suffering. Thus, EG Justice is working to shed light on the health issues in the country. The first issues we would like to focus on is the reemergence of the polio virus in Equatorial Guinea. It is an incredibly timely health issue that needs to be addressed in the wake of the recent polio out break in the region. Polio, a virus that that world organizations have put significant resources towards to eradicate, has been eliminated in the country for the past 15 years. However, this January, the virus reared its head again in the country. 
The goal of EG Justice is to augment the conversation on polio in the country by examining the social and political factors that might have lead to the reemergence of the disease in the country. Resources must constantly be allocated to vaccinate children, those who are most at risk for polio, in order to maintain a high level of immunity in communities and ensure that polio cannot find its way in. However, vaccination rates have dropped to 39%, the worst rate in the entire world reflecting poorly on the manner in which the government and the President have allocated resources. In the context of the corruption in Equatorial Guinea, polio in the country is representative of the toll and very real consequences of the corruption an imbalanced resource allocation in the country. It has been enlightening to work with Tutu Alicante and his associates at the WHO on this issue for they bring to light new connections between the political actions the government takes and the consequences they have outside of simply politics and government. What is being seen as simply a disease outbreak in the region truly has multiple layers hidden underneath the corruption in the government. I hope that the work we do on Polio can highlight these connections as well as help me see these connections in other issues that we will work on!