Eradicating Polio – a work in progress for more than three decades

It's now more 33 years since Rotary International teamed up with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the US Centre for Disease Control to rid the world of poliomyelitis.

This crippling disease, mostly affecting children, at that time claimed almost 1,000 children EVERY DAY. Now thanks to the efforts of 33 years, polio remains endemic in only three countries in the world.

How has this been achieved?

In 1955, Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio, using deactivated virus. Albert Sabin followed in 1963 with an easy to administer oral active vaccine, which is also highly effective. Routine vaccination for polio is standard in many countries as a result. 

The last case of natural Polio infection in the UK was found in 1982, and in 2002 the continent of Europe was declared polio-free. 

But the fight goes on: one of the problems is that diseases don't recognise land borders, so that even though many countries are no longer endemic, cases do occur as the disease (and carriers) cross boundaries to neighbouring countries, particularly those surrounding Nigeria; the ease of air travel also creates risks as well.

Thus the campaign goes on

Related pages...

What is Polio?

more Background info on Polio

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End Polio Now