On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to unveil its annual report on the worldwide spread of polio.
The report, titled Global polio surveillance, will detail the impact of the global pandemic, the impact on global healthcare, and the progress made in eradicating the disease.
A global pandemics is defined as a series of events that, if left unchecked, could cause death or serious harm to a large number of people.
The latest global pandems, known as Global Pan-Pandemic (2014-2020) and Global Pandemic (2017-2020), have seen a sharp rise in cases and deaths in the past few years.
While the latest global cases were lower than in the last pandemic (2012), the number of deaths was significantly higher, at 2,567, according to WHO data.
At the end of 2017, there were 4.2 million reported cases and 4.3 million deaths worldwide, which is about 3 per cent of the worldwide population.
WHO is forecasting that the number one reason for the increase in the number and severity of the new global pandics is the resurgence of poliovirus, which has now entered into the mainstream.
However, the new report notes that the global impact of poliomyelitis, as well as the number, spread and severity, has not been as dramatic.
Its important to understand that the increase is largely due to a combination of factors, including a greater awareness of the disease, improved vaccination coverage, and increased awareness about healthcare services available to patients, WHO says.
This makes the report a good opportunity to acknowledge that polio is not a disease of the poor, the young or the weak.
It is a pandemic of the middle class and its impact on healthcare is enormous, said Dr Arun Khemka, the deputy director-general of WHO.
The report will highlight the progress achieved by WHO in reducing polio cases worldwide in 2017, as part of its ongoing commitment to eradicating polio.
In the coming months, the WHO is planning to expand its global vaccination campaign and will also be working with partners to expand the capacity of the WHO and other healthcare providers in key countries, including Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.WHO has also been working to address the impact and prevention of polio, particularly in rural and remote areas.
In 2017, the agency launched a series in rural areas to highlight how polio can be prevented through education, vaccination and hygiene, and how health systems can provide services that are safe, efficient and equitable.
The new report is a critical opportunity to recognise the progress that has been made and the efforts made by WHO and its partners, Dr Khemkas said.
We are now in the fourth year of the Global Polio Eradication Plan (GPEP), and the number is on track to be higher.
If the current trend continues, the global population will reach 2.2 billion by 2035.