Global & Disaster Medicine

World Polio Day is October 24


In 2019, we will celebrate a couple of incredible milestones: the 25th anniversary of the polio-free status of the Region of the Americas and the Global Certification Commission’s certification of the eradication of type 3 wild poliovirus (WPV3). The announcement of the eradication of WPV3 will signify an important step toward a polio-free world with only one type of wild poliovirus (WPV type 1) still in circulation in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

October 24th is World Polio Day

Despite this tremendous progress, the final mile to eradication is an uphill road and will not be easy. The global polio program is facing multiple, ongoing, serious challenges with the increase in the number of wild poliovirus cases and the continued spread of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) outbreaks in countries around the world. In 2018, we saw an increase in wild polio cases with 33 reported cases in two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of October 24, 2019, a total of 95 cases of wild polio have been reported. The two-remaining polio-endemic countries must reach all children with polio vaccine to achieve zero wild poliovirus cases, and ultimately for the world to achieve polio eradication. This will require increased commitments from governments, local communities, donor partners and multilateral organizations. Furthermore, to address the ongoing circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses, all countries must work to strengthen their immunization programs to close any gaps and ensure that all children are protected against polio – the world depends on it!

CDC, along with our Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, is working closely with leadership and partners in the two endemic countries and countries experiencing cVDPV outbreaks to urgently implement new and proven strategies for strengthening immunization and surveillance. We will overcome the final hurdles to eradication. The global polio program is working relentlessly together so that we can deliver a world where no child lives in fear of paralysis from poliovirus.

This year we highlight an overarching theme, Stories of Progress: Past and present for World Polio Day. This theme was selected to acknowledge the progress made to date in eradication efforts, the polio program’s ability to make the necessary strategic changes needed to continue along the path to eradication, and to recognize the efforts of the people, from front line to global, who have made this program possible.

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