Global & Disaster Medicine

October 24 is World Polio Day


Volunteer at one of 350 permanent transit points along the border of Pakistan vaccinates children on the move.

Message from the Director of CDC’s Center for Global Health

October 24 is World Polio Day, and it is an opportunity for the global polio eradication community to renew its promise of a polio-free world for future generations. This year’s theme is “A Celebration of the Unsung Heroes of Polio Eradication.” There are many unsung heroes working to make polio eradication possible:  vaccinators, community volunteers, frontline health care workers, surveillance and laboratory staff, and civil society.

In 2016, the world saw the lowest ever number of wild polio cases with only 37. To date in 2017, there have been 12 polio cases reported from two of the three remaining polio endemic countries:  Afghanistan (7) and Pakistan (5). Since 1988, progress against polio has been strong and consistent, with cases reduced by over 99.99%. High-quality polio vaccine campaigns and innovative methods for reaching every child have restricted the virus and put polio eradication within our reach.

The progress made in polio control has been led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership led by national governments with five core partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

CDC in Action

CDC experts are diligently working with partners to eradicate polio around the world. During World Polio Day we highlight some examples of the work done by the “unsung heroes” of this effort:

Featured Story

Unsung Heroes of Polio Eradication Since the launch of the GPEI in 1988, the number of polio cases decreased by over 99% due to the heroic efforts of everyone involved in the polio program and the sustained commitment of partners and donors. Of the many unsung heroes of polio eradication efforts, CDC provides direct support to three major programs: the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP), the National Stop Transmission of Polio (NSTOP) Program, and the CDC polio lab. Learn more about the contributions and impacts of these programs.

Other stories include:


“Vaccinating Millions of Children in 4 Days”: Vaccinating children to protect them against vaccine preventable diseases like polio is crucial. In endemic countries where routine immunization happens at a lower rate than other areas of the world, additional strategies are used in efforts to vaccinate children. This video highlights the importance of supplemental immunization activities and the incredible efforts made by vaccination teams to vaccinate children.


Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in PakistanGet a glimpse behind the scenes of polio eradication efforts through the eyes of a Rotarian who works to prevent this disease in her home country of Pakistan. Experience what it was like to work in an area that not only has security challenges, but was also riddled with misconceptions about the polio vaccine. Learn how these unsung heroes overcame obstacles to help Pakistan go from more than 300 polio cases in 2014 to less only 5 cases in just three years.

Other blogs include:

Photo Essays

Photo Essay

Polio Campaigns in AfricaIn 2016 there were only 4 cases of wild poliovirus in sub-Saharan Africa, all detected in Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa. In an effort to reach and protect children unreached by routine immunization services, oral polio immunization campaigns are being conducted in several African countries, with support from technical staff from CDC’s Global Immunization Division (GID)/Polio Eradication Branch/Africa team. Also available in French!

Photo Essay

At Work For ImmunizationWhen planning for routine immunizations, mass vaccination campaigns in response to outbreaks, or supplemental immunization activities, it is important to get as many people involved as possible to reach every child. Female health workers often join immunization activities because they know that vaccines work to save lives.

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