Skip to content

Polio Highlight


Full text is at:


1. There are 10 months to go to hit the World Health Assembly’s goal of stopping global polio transmission by the end of 2012. Currently the eradication program is not on track to meet this goal.

2. Success in India – one of the four polio endemic countries – shows that unswerving political commitment, outstanding public health leadership, clear lines of accountability, intolerance of weak performance and the systematic enforcement of best practice can stop polio.

3. Elsewhere in affected countries, programs are falling short in most, if not all, of the areas where India has excelled.

4. In these next 10 months every drop of vaccine will count, every vaccinator will count, every team leader will count, every laboratory specimen will count, every piece of data will count, every parent will count, but most of all every child will count.

5. Science has delivered to human civilization the chance to eliminate one of the malevolent forces of nature, an invisible enemy that obliterates childhoods, maims bodies and scars families and communities. For only the second time in history, the world is poised to rid itself of a disease that has destroyed millions of lives. This opportunity must not be lost.

6. If the program can make the shift in performance from good to great – drawing on the analysis in this and our earlier reports – then the next 10 months will be looked back on by future generations as the countdown to the final knock-out blow to the polio virus.

7. The program’s 2010-12 Strategic Plan aimed to stop transmission in two endemic countries by end-2011. Its success in India was magnificent. By sharp contrast, the other three endemic countries each had more polio cases in 2011 than in 2010.

8. Transmission was supposed to be stopped by end-2010 in the four ‘re-established’ countries. This failed in Angola, Chad and DR Congo. A year on, polio retains a powerful grip in at least the latter two of these.

9. More positively, the plan aimed to stop outbreaks within six months. The program has successfully done so in every case but one.

10. Six countries still have persistent transmission:

·        Nigeria’s 2011 emergency plan had no meaningful impact. Its 2012 plan must be of a different order entirely. This needs urgent attention

·        Pakistan has deep problems, but has recently strengthened its approach

·        Afghanistan has not got to grips with how to reach enough children in insecure areas

·        Angola looks promising, with no polio case since July 2011

·        Chad’s program is building visibly but slowly from a very low baseline

·        DR Congo moved in the right direction in 2011 but we retain substantial concerns, particularly about Katanga.


11. The reason that polio will not be eradicated on the program’s present trajectory is straightforward: performance is of variable quality and consistently falls below best practice in all the polio affected areas.

12. There is no single or simple solution to this problem of sub-standard performance but three big actions would transform the prospects of the elimination goal being met: Greater use of the key strategies of change management, including much greater emphasis on ‘people factors’; identifying and finding definitive solutions to systemic problems that are barriers to success; taking to heart and fully adopting the lessons learned from India’s success.


13. Our previous reports have discussed these issues extensively. The program’s partners are starting to demonstrate that they understand these points and can act on them.

14. The program continues to provide illustrations of the fact that it needs to persist with this change in thinking. As just one example: in the 18 months of our existence we have heard little strategic discussion of a key component of the polio eradication workforce: the humble vaccinator. In contrast, we know from multiple sources, and from firsthand experience, that too many of these workers are underrated, rarely thanked, frequently criticized, often under-paid, poorly motivated, and weakly-skilled. Being an excellent vaccinator means being well-organized, a good communicator, and having the tenacity to track down every last child. It is the program’s responsibility to value, train and inspire this immensely important group of people, arguably the most important in the program. Their collective actions can drive the eradication effort to failure or elevate it to success.

15. The body of our report provides a number of other examples.

16. WHO’s Executive Board has declared polio eradication a “programmatic emergency for global public health”. These are strong words, but justified. Countries, partners and all who have a stake in polio eradication need to understand the severity of the situation. The impact of an emergency response will not come from what they say, but from what they now do.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 13:31

Poliomyelitis: Intensification of the Global Eradication Initiative

During its 130th meeting last week, the World Health Organization's Executive Board issued a declaration calling for the completion of polio eradication to be considered programmatic emergency for global public health. The resolution will now be presented to the World Health Assembly in May for consideration.

Delegates urged any remaining polio-infected country to declare such transmission 'national public health emergencies', requiring the full implementation of current and new eradication strategies and the institution of strong national oversight and accountability mechanisms.

The resolution is available at


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 January 2012 06:34

Polio – A global emergency

As polio cases escalate in Nigeria and Pakistan, the world is facing an emergency – a resurgence of polio if the virus is not eradicated once and for all. If the global effort to eradicate polio fails, within just a decade 250,000 children each year could be paralysed or die as a result of the disease.

Prevention is so simple - just a couple of drops can save a life – yet the world has so far struggled to eradicate the disease once and for all. It is now or never for polio eradication.

Aware of the necessity of finishing the job as quickly as possible, key polio-affected countries and partner agencies of the GPEI have ramped up their organization-wide dedication to the disease’s eradication. Heads of agencies will step up their level of oversight over the programme, and accountability measures are being put in place to indentify both underperforming and outstanding staff.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have moved their headquarters-level polio work to their Emergency Operations Center, and the polio department of the World Health Organization is currently working from the Strategic Health Operations Centre until a new high-tech operations centre for polio is fully functional by end-January. As key countries ramp up their emergency action plans, these operations centres enable closer support, real-time data sharing and more, as seen during natural disasters and pandemics.

Source: Polio Global Eradication Initiative, available at:

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 06:54

India records one year without polio cases

India appears to have interrupted wild poliovirus transmission, today completing one year without polio since its last case, in a 2-year-old girl in the state of West Bengal, on 13 January 2011
Read more here:

Source: WHO - News release, January 12, 2012

News on Polio Eradication from Pakistan

In Pakistan, His Excellency Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has announced sweeping changes to address the drastic rise in new polio cases in 2011. At a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication chaired by the Prime Minister, a strengthened and reinvigorated National Emergency Action Plan was launched. As a first step, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali as the Prime Minister's Focal Person for Polio. Ms Wazir Ali has already had a long and successful public service career, being Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Sector and member of the national assembly of Pakistan. Her appointment as the Prime Minister's Focal Person for Polio was widely applauded by partner agencies at country, regional and global levels.

The Prime Minister clearly underlined that activities and accountability needed to be tracked and monitored at the provincial level. To this effect, the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Governor of KP, the Chief Minister of Sindh and Balochistan's Provincial Minister for Law all provided clear assurances that their offices would provide greater oversight to rapidly improve polio operations. Senior officials will be appointed by the Chief Ministers and the Governor of KP for each province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Chief Ministers and the Governor of KP will personally review the latest epidemiology on a monthly basis and take corrective measures as necessary. Primary focus is on ensuring full accountability of district and Union-Council level staff.


Last Updated on Friday, 02 December 2011 07:10
<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Next > End >>

Page 15 of 23

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

© Pan American Health Organization. All rights reserved.