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Since 1988, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized against polio thanks to the unprecedented cooperation of more than 200 countries and 20 million volunteers, backed by an international investment of over US$ 8 billion. By 2006, only four countries remained that had never stopped polio transmission, and annual case numbers had decreased by over 99%.

World Health Assembly 1988
In 1988 the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eradicate polio, launching the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

However, since 2003, annual case numbers have fluctuated between 1000 and 2000, and between 12 and 23 countries every year have reported polio cases due to imported polioviruses.

In 2008, the World Health Assembly called for a new strategy to eradicate polio from the remaining affected countries and finally rid the world of polio. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched an intensified eradication effort involving the wide-scale use of new tools and tactics in each country, with renewed commitment by their leaders and donors.

Volunteers hold an End Polio Now banner
More than 20 million volunteers have contributed to ending polio

In 2009, a special one-year Programme of Work was implemented to examine new vaccine formulations and delivery routes, test new operational approaches to reach missed children, and undertake an evaluation of the major barriers to eradicating polio. The Programme of Work also focused on increasing coverage levels of supplementary immunization activities in endemic-countries, which proved to be successful in the key reservoir areas of northern Nigeria and northern India.

By the end of 2009, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and the Advisory Committee on Poliomyelitis Eradication (ACPE) concluded that the remaining barriers to achieving eradication could be addressed. This led to the development of a three-year strategic plan – the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan 2010–2012 – an aggressive, time-bound strategy with measurable milestones to stop polio transmission in the few areas where it persists.

Related links

Global eradication of poliomyelitis by the year 2000
World Health Assembly resolution WHA41.28, 1988 [pdf 24.8kb]
World Health Assembly resolution WHA61.1, 2008 [pdf 240kb]

Poliomyelitis: mechanism for management of potential risks to eradication

Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan 2010–2012