What are the priorities for the polio incident response?

What are the priorities for the polio incident response?

A panel discussion on this topic took place on Tuesday 20th September.

The panellists were:

  • Dr Jonathan Cohen (Head of Paediatric Infectious Diseases Services, Evelina London Children’s Hospital at St Thomas’),
  • Dr Mary Ramsay (Director of Public Health Programmes at the UK Health Safety Agency),
  • Dr Leonora Weil (Public Health Consultant, UK Health Security Agency, London; Co-Director, NHS London COVID Legacy and Equity Partnership, focussing on closing the equity gap in routine immunisations, screening and access to good health; and lead for a multi-stakeholder pan London Task Force for UKHSA and the NHS to increase rates of uptake for all childhood vaccinations);
  • Dr Joseph Spitzer (General Practitioner, North – East London) and
  • Dr Ben Kasstan (medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).

Further details about these panellists can be accessed here.

Prof David Katz was in the chair and Dr Fiona Sim proposed a vote of thanks.

The starting point for this panel discussion was that doctors and healthcare professionals need to be aware of the “real story” of the polio incident as a starting point for what they say to patients, to communities and to colleagues asking questions. Given the Jewish linkage that has been reported during the current incident, it is a particularly relevant issue for Jewish doctors – not only because cases might arise, but also to combat any misinformation.

We were fortunate to be able to call on several experts involved in aspects of the incident to lead us through and educate us about the issues involved.

We heard about polio as an infectious disease, about the virus itself; and about what wastewater analysis is and what it teaches us.

We were given an overview of the response programme, learned about the role of general practice in vaccination and also learned about the factors which influence communities to become better engaged in vaccination strategies.

Drs Cohen, Ramsay, Weil and Kasstan have kindly made their powerpoint presentations available.

For CPD purposes the specific learning objectives of the event can be accessed here.

Watch a recording of the full event here.