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Polio Highlight

China One Year Polio-free

9 October 2012 marked 12 months since China’s last polio case.

In 2011, polio from Pakistan had infected the country, which had eradicated indigenous polio in 1994. China conducted a model response, and successfully stopped the outbreak in record time – three months from index to last case. For more on the outbreak response implemented in China, please click here

Rotary International to commit $75 million to end polio

EVANSTON, Ill., September 27, 2012 -- Rotary International plans to contribute US $75 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as part of a worldwide effort to close a $945 million funding gap that threatens to derail the 24 year-old global health effort, even as new polio cases are at an all-time low. Rotary already has contributed more than $1.2 billion to stop this crippling childhood disease.

"It is imperative that governments step up and honor their commitments to polio eradication if we are to achieve our goal of a polio-free world," said Wilkinson. "We are at a true tipping point, with success never closer than it is right now. We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world's children." Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for polio eradication in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which promptly contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary's commitment.

The urgency at the UN follows action taken in May by the World Health Assembly, which declared polio eradication to be a "programmatic emergency for global public health." Although new polio cases are at an all-time low - fewer than 140 worldwide so far this year - the $945 million shortfall has already affected several scheduled immunization activities in polio-affected countries and could derail the entire program unless the gap is bridged.

Rotary's chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, a role of increasing importance as the end game draws near. In early September, Rotary launched a new, interactive website intended to educate, activate and inspire visitors to actively support the polio eradication effort.

For more information on Rotary International, visit:
For more information on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, visit:


Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 11:05

Update on Vaccine-Derived Polioviruses

Update on Vaccine-Derived Polioviruses
Worldwide, April 2011–June 2012

Read it here

Source: CDC

High-level Event on Polio Eradication in New York City

Next week (on 27 September), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host a high-level event on polio eradication, in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.  The event, ‘Our Commitment to the Next Generation:  The Legacy of a Polio-free World’ will bring together leaders of the remaining endemic countries, donor governments, development agencies, spearheading partners and representatives of the media, to draw attention to the urgent need for focus and commitment to eradicate the remaining 1% of polio cases worldwide.    

The event will be followed by a global civil society festival on 29 September, bringing together top artists with an audience of 60,000 to a concert in New York’s Central Park, to catalyse further action to end polio and extreme poverty.  For more, please visit    

Last Updated on Friday, 21 September 2012 09:40

Basic Polio Facts

Fact sheet N°114 Rev.1
April 2013
Original article:

Key facts

  • Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under five years of age.
  • One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
  • Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
  • In 2013, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
  • Persistent pockets of polio transmission in northern Nigeria and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are the current focus of the polio eradication initiative.
  • As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
  • In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.

Polio and its symptoms

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

People most at risk

Polio mainly affects children under five years of age.


There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.

Global caseload

Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. In 2013, only parts of three countries in the world remain endemic for the disease–the smallest geographic area in history–and case numbers of wild poliovirus type 3 are down to lowest-ever levels.


The Global Polio Eradication Initiative


In 1988, the forty-first World Health Assembly, consisting then of delegates from 166 Member States, adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio. It marked the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This followed the certification of the eradication of smallpox in 1980, progress during the 1980s towards elimination of the poliovirus in the Americas, and Rotary International’s commitment to raise funds to protect all children from the disease.


Overall, since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 99%. In 2013, only three countries in the world remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 1994, the WHO Region of the Americas was certified polio-free, followed by the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the WHO European Region in June 2002. Of the three types of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2 and type 3), type 2 wild poliovirus transmission has been successfully stopped (since 1999).

More than 10 million people are today walking, who would otherwise have been paralysed. An estimated more than 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systematic administration of Vitamin A during polio immunization activities.

Opportunity and risks: an emergency approach

The strategies for polio eradication work when they are fully implemented. This is clearly demonstrated by India’s success in stopping polio in January 2011, in arguably the most technically-challenging place. However, failure to implement strategic approaches leads to ongoing transmission of the virus. Endemic transmission is continuing in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Failure to stop polio in these last remaining areas could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.

Recognizing both the epidemiological opportunity and the significant risks of potential failure, the World Health Assembly in May 2012 adopted a resolution declaring the completion of polio eradication a programmatic emergency for global public health and called for the development of a comprehensive polio eradication and endgame strategy through 2018 to secure a lasting polio-free world.

Subsequently, the three remaining endemic countries launched national polio emergency action plans, overseen in each case by the respective head of state, and the partner agencies of the GPEI also moved their operations to an emergency footing, working under the auspices of the Global Emergency Action Plan 2012-2013. By the start of 2013, the impact of the emergency approaches is being seen, with the lowest number of reported cases in fewer districts of fewer countries than at any previous time.

Since then, the new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 has been developed, in consultation with polio-affected countries, stakeholders, donors, partners and national and international advisory bodies. The new Plan was presented at a Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the end of April 2013. It is the first plan to eradicate all types of polio disease simultaneously – both due to wild poliovirus and due to vaccine-derived polioviruses.

Global leaders and individual philanthropists signaled their confidence in the Plan by pledging three-quarters of the Plan’s projected US$5.5 billion cost over the six years. They also called upon additional donors to commit upfront the additional US$1.5 billion needed to secure a lasting polio-free world.

Future benefits of polio eradication

Once polio is eradicated, the world can celebrate the delivery of a major global public good that will benefit all people equally, no matter where they live. Economic modelling has found that the eradication of polio in the next five years would save at least US$ 40-50 billion, mostly in low-income countries

Last Updated on Monday, 13 January 2014 14:38
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