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The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF. The initiative is a unique collaboration of governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society. UNICEF is committed to the goal of polio eradication. Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) started, polio cases have been reduced by more than 99 per cent from an average of 350,000 per year in 1988  to 1,651 cases in 2008. 

Key Messages

  • Somalia, a country that had eradicated polio in 2002,  was re-infected in 2005.  However, the last case of polio was reported in March 2007,  indicating that the country is once again polio-free.
  • Polio is endemic in four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, which together accounted for 1,505 polio cases in 2008, or 91 per cent of all cases.  The virus circulation in the remaining endemic countries remains to be restricted primarily to specific geographic areas with identified challenges including insecurity, inaccessibility and managerial and administrative issues which influence the quality of activities in these areas. More concerted efforts continue to be made to address these challenges to be able to reach and vaccinate all children and stop virus circulation.
  • UNICEF’s mission is to assist governments in their efforts to immunize every child against polio until transmission has stopped and the world can be certified polio-free.
  • Since the momentous launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988 during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, nearly five million children, who otherwise would have been paralyzed and incapacitated by polio, are walking, able and symptom-free. 
  • The number of polio cases reported annually has decreased by more than 99 per cent – from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,651 cases in 2008. This rapid success has been achieved through a global campaign to immunize every child under five. Since the late nineties, the polio vaccine has been delivered to children in endemic countries through mass immunization campaigns, known as National Immunization Days (NIDs).
  • Only when three years have passed without a case and the world has been certified polio-free can we say we have achieved global eradication.

Updated – January 2010



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