Statement by the GAVI Alliance on World Polio Day
A social health activist administers drops of the oral polio vaccine to a child in April 2008 during a door-to-door immunisation effort in India. Source: Rotary International/2008.
Geneva, 24 October 2011 – Feared for centuries because of the death
and paralysis it causes, polio is finally on the edge of eradication.
1988 when global polio eradication efforts began, incidence has dropped
99% and the number of polio endemic countries has been reduced from 125
to 4. Today, an estimated eight million people are walking who would
otherwise have lost their ability to walk. Parents, children,
colleagues, friends – a generation has been saved.
But even as
our colleagues in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are making the
final push, we are seeing that eradication will be no pushover.
long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are
at risk of contracting polio. In the past decade, polio has spread to
over 20 polio-free countries.
But however difficult the task, we in the global community must finish it.
has a critical role to play in polio eradication and countries with low
immunisation coverage are most vulnerable to the transmission of wild
polio virus. The four countries which still have endemic polio –
Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India – are all a major focus of
But India, for example, was once an intense polio transmission zone but has seen no new cases of polio since January 2011.
GAVI Alliance is delighted to support our colleagues at the Global
Polio Eradication Initiative, set up in 1988 with Rotary’s extraordinary
vision of a world that is free from polio.
Published last year,
a recent study estimated that the polio eradication within the next
five years could provide net benefits of at least US$ 40-50 billion. For
families around the world, polio eradication also means lives saved and
the prevention of devastating disability.
GAVI’s contribution to
the fight against polio includes support for increasing routine
immunisation coverage, which has risen to 79% of infants from 66% in
2000, together with a US$191 million investment for polio vaccine
stockpile, eradication activities, and development of a monovalent oral
Polio eradication will also highlight the enormous
power of vaccines and immunisation and offer essential lessons to
reduce more of the world’s most devastating diseases.